New Research for e.Coli Protection

Food safety remains a major concern in the United States.

The deadly, spinach e.Coli outbreak served as a frightening reminder about just how vulnerable our food supply is.

When spinach contaminated with e.Coli made it to stores, more than 200 people got sick and three died.

At this USDA Research Center in Albany, scientists are working to make sure that does not happen again.

The secret weapon may be hiding inside a fruit wrap.

The initial goal was to offer kids an easy way to eat more fruits and veggies.

Then researchers got the idea to add disease fighting ingredients like oregano oil, lemongrass oil and cinnamon oil.

Researchers consider them bacteria busters.

"They’re sort of natural insecticides that the plant makes to protect themselves," explains Mendel Friedman, USDA research chemist.

Scientists added the natural oils to foils and tested them on an e.Coli laced plate.

"They were effective at low concentrations in terms of killing e.Coli," says Dr. Tara McHugh, USDA research leader.

The totally natural, edible wraps could also potentially protect your burger from e.Coli and that is not all. "Many of these natural compounds have the potential of protecting fruit juices," explains Friedman.

They may also protect against salmonella and listeria.

The USDA patented the technology and licensed it to Origami Foods in Pleasanton.

You can find the fruit and veggie wraps used instead of seaweed in sushi sold at some California Costco stores and even at some high end restaurants.

If additional research proves these foils truly are effective at fighting e.Coli in foods, then the bacteria fighting wraps could be available in stores starting as soon as next year, potentially offering an innovative way to foil e.Coli.

USDA researchers say it is possible their edible coating could one day be used to fight bacteria, that are resistant to antibiotics.

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