RALEIGH – A group of N.C. State University researchers will share in a $2 million grant to naturally improve the safety of organic produce.
The $2 million grant, which comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) program, will be shared with scientists at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture. Their study – “Alternative Post-harvest Washing Solutions to Enhance the Microbial Safety and Quality of Organic Fresh Produce” – began last fall.
The study could be important as the market for organic foods continues to grow. According to a 2012 MarketLine report, the global organic food market grew by 9.8 percent in 2011 to reach a value of $67 billion and is expected to exceed $100 billion by 2016. The report also found that the Americas account for more than half of the global organic food market value.
“To improve microbiological safety of organic produce, there is an urgent need to develop washing practices that not only enhance sanitation effectiveness but also fulfill the requirement of organic fresh produce,” says Qixin Zhong, an associate professor in the UT Department of Food Science and Technology, who is leading the initiative.
As part of the project, the researchers also will evaluate the economic feasibility of their work and impact on the shelf life of various types of organic produce.
By: Jason deBruyn, The Triangle Business Journal