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Making Tomatoes Safer

first_imgWhen vegetable farmers harvest crops, they often rely on postharvest washing to reduce any foodborne pathogens, but a new University of Georgia study shows promise in reducing these pathogens — as well as lowering labor costs — by applying sanitizers to produce while it is still in the fields.Salmonella, Shiga toxin-producing E. coli and Listeria monocytogenes are major causes of foodborne diseases and of public health concern in the U.S. Tomato-associated Salmonella outbreaks reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have increased in frequency and magnitude in recent years, and fresh produce accounted for 21% of E. coli outbreaks reported to the CDC over a 20-year span.Initially researchers were going to study the use of a nonchlorine-based sanitizer made of two food additives approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration — levulinic acid and sodium dodecyl sulfate — as a postharvest wash solution. However, at the suggestion of a producer involved in the study — Bill Brim of Lewis Taylor Farms in Tifton, Georgia — they designed the study using the solution in a preharvest spray, said Tong Zhao, associate research scientist with the Center for Food Safety on the UGA Griffin campus.While producers commonly use chlorine-based disinfectants — including chlorine gas, sodium hypochlorite, calcium hypochlorite and chlorine dioxide — to treat produce postharvest, the preharvest application of bactericides is not a common practice, Zhao said.Building on previous studies of levulinic acid and sodium dodecyl sulfate that showed the combination substantially reduces both Salmonella and E. coli on romaine lettuce without adversely affecting lettuce quality, Zhao hoped to prove the combination’s effectiveness on reducing foodborne pathogens on tomato plants contaminated with Salmonella, Shiga toxin-producing E. coli and Listeria monocytogenes.In the field studies, the spray treatment significantly reduced the total bacterial population on the surface of tomatoes, determining that this preharvest treatment is a practical, labor-cost effective and environmentally friendly approach for the control and reduction of foodborne pathogens. The study was recently published in the journal Food Control.“This combination of chemicals had never been used for preharvest treatment,” said Zhao, who studied the combination 10 years ago as an alternative to chlorine treatment as a postharvest wash. “Free chlorine is easily neutralized by organic material, which is a big problem when you are using it to reduce pathogens.”In both laboratory and field tests, tomato plants were sprayed all over with a solution containing five strains of E. coli, five strains of Salmonella and five strains of Listeria specially grown for the study in the lab.To test the effectiveness of the chemicals in the lab as a preventative and as a treatment, tomato plants were separated into three equal groups then sprayed with the bacteria solution. The first group was treated with acidified chlorine as the positive control, the second with a treatment solution containing levulinic acid and sodium dodecyl sulfate as the test group, and the third treated with tap water only as the negative control.For the three plots used for farm application testing, the positive and negative control groups were treated the same way, and a commercial product — Fit-L — was diluted according to the manufacturer’s description and used as the treatment solution. Before treatment studies on the farm, two concentrations of the treatment solution were tested for safety on tomato seedlings in the greenhouse.Results from the studies showed that the application, used either as a preventative or as a treatment, significantly reduced the populations of inoculated Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, Salmonella and L. monocytogenes on tomato plants.“I have to express appreciation to the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Association for funding this and other research that is of benefit to agricultural producers in the state,” Zhao said.In addition to being effective and affordable, preharvest treatment with levulinic acid and sodium dodecyl sulfate to reduce pathogens also saves labor costs for producers who need workers to perform postharvest washing and drying of produce before packaging.“This method can easily be adopted using equipment that most farms are already using,” Zhao said. “Preharvest treatment is very effective, efficient and easy considering the amount of labor needed for postharvest washing.”For more information on the UGA Center for Food Safety, visit cfs.caes.uga.edu.last_img read more

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Are you proud of your credit union?

first_imgPride in their job and pride for your credit union is something you unequivocally expect from your employees.  You want them to be loyal.  You want them to be excited about the credit union and share it with anyone and everyone.But I am going to ask you a hard question right now.  Are you, the leader of the credit union, as equally excited to share your credit union with the members who want and need you?Let’s say you are at a restaurant enjoying a meal with your spouse (and you’re the CEO of your credit union), and the waiter is asking what you do for a living.  You say, “I work for a bank.”The waiter, working at this restaurant to subsidize his income because he is an entrepreneur at his growing company, is hustling to build a better life for himself and his family.  He begins asking if you do small business loans.Not even looking him in the eye, you say “you have to qualify for membership and we don’t work with very many businesses,” trying to end the interaction.Serving people in any industry isn’t always convenient and on your timeline.  Peoples’ financial needs are always on their mind…not just when the credit union is open.  They may not be the “ideal member” you have in your mind.  They may have more than one job to support their family.  They may be drowning in debt or they may be recovering from a big financial tragedy and are starting to fight their way back.I will end with a second hard question: If you were a fly on the wall at the restaurant witnessing that conversation between the waiter and one of your employees, would you be upset with them?  Would you see the pride for your credit union that you expect them to have?Pride, enthusiasm, inspiration, and excitement are all attributes that can and should be developed daily among employees at all levels.  Credit unions continue to have the best brand story of any industry (yes I may be biased) because credit unions do all of the things that members need and want but they do it with fewer financial and human resources.  Which means you work harder.Why do you work harder?  Because you have a heart for the mission of your credit union.  And how should that work make you feel?  Proud. 4SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Amanda Thomas Amanda is founder and president of TwoScore, a firm that channels her passion for the credit union mission and people to help credit unions under $100 million in assets reach … Web: www.twoscore.com Detailslast_img read more