School of Earth, Environmental, and Marine Sciences Faculty Publications and Presentations

Using Photocatalyst Metal Oxides as Antimicrobial Surface Coatings to Ensure Food Safety—Opportunities and Challenges

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Cross-contamination of foods with pathogenic microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites may occur at any point in the farm to fork continuum. Food contact and nonfood contact surfaces are the most frequent source of microbial cross-contamination. In the wake of new and emerging food safety challenges, including antibiotic-resistant human pathogens, conventional sanitation and disinfection practices may not be sufficient to ensure safe food processing, proper preparation, and also not be environmentally friendly. Nanotechnology-enabled novel food safety interventions have a great potential to mitigate the risk of microbial cross-contamination in the food chain. Especially engineered nanoparticles (ENPs) are increasingly finding novel applications as antimicrobial agents. Among various ENPs, photocatalyst metal oxides have shown great promise as effective nontargeted disinfectants over a wide range of microorganisms. The present review provides an overview of antimicrobial properties of various photocatalyst metal oxides and their potential applications as surface coatings. Further, this review discusses the most common approaches to developing antimicrobial coatings, methods to characterize, test, and evaluate antimicrobial efficacy as well as the physical stability of the coatings. Finally, regulations and challenges concerning the use of these novel photocatalytic antimicrobial coatings are also discussed.


© 2017 Institute of Food Technologists®

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Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety