MMaterialsgateNEWS 2018/07/30

Cooking oil coating prevents bacteria from growing on food processing equipment

Credit: Liz Do

Many foods produced on an industrial scale include raw ingredients mixed together in enormous stainless steel machines that can be difficult to clean.

With repeated use, equipment surfaces get minute scratches and grooves, providing bacteria and biofilms the perfect place to hide. While surface scratches may appear small to the naked eye, they are like a canyon to bacteria, which are only a few micrometers in size. Surface-trapped food residue and bacteria then increase the risk of contamination from microorganisms such as Salmonella, Listeria and E. coli.

Professor Ben Hatton (MSE), Dr. Dalal Asker and Dr. Tarek Awad research cheaper, safer and more effective ways to prevent bacteria thriving inside these machines. This minimizes the risk of cross contamination, which can lead to foodborne disease. Their team have proposed a simple new solution: trapping a thin layer of cooking oil at the metal surface to fill in microscopic scrapes, cracks and fissures and create a barrier to bacterial attachment.

They found that this solution resulted in a 1,000x reduction in bacterial levels inside the industrial machines tested. Their work is recently published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

“Coating a stainless steel surface with an everyday cooking oil has proven remarkably effective in repelling bacteria,” says Hatton who collaborated on the project with AGRI-NEO, an Ontario seed processing company looking for a solution to a common problem in its industry. “The oil fills in the cracks, creates a hydrophobic layer and acts as a barrier to contaminants on the surface.”

This simple and cost-effective alternative builds on the Slippery Liquid-Infused Porous Surfaces (SLIPS) principle, initially developed at Harvard to trap lubricant layers into a surface microstructure and create slippery, non-wetting and non-adhesive properties. Cooking oils such as olive, corn or canola also provide a safer option for cleaning food-processing equipment than the harsh chemicals and disinfectants that are typically used. The sheer size of the machines makes it harder for cleaning materials to do a thorough job, and leftover bacteria can build up resistance to the cleaning agents. Hatton’s method of filling the scratches with oil prevents bacteria from settling and essentially cleans the surface without leaving chemical residues on the stainless steel surface.

“Contamination in food preparation equipment can impact individual health, cause costly product recalls and can still result after chemical-based cleaning occurs,” says Hatton. “The research showed that using a surface treatment and a cooking oil barrier provides greater coverage and results in 1,000 less bacteria roaming around.”

The Hatton research group continues to test new combinations of oils, foods and biofilm types to increase the efficiency of the bacteria barriers. They will also explore options of using this method in developing countries to minimize bacterial infection and improve mortality rates.

Source: University of Toronto Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering – 28.07.2018.

Investigated and edited by:

Dr.-Ing. Christoph Konetschny, Inhaber und Gründer von Materialsgate
Büro für Material- und Technologieberatung
The investigation and editing of this document was performed with best care and attention.
For the accuracy, validity, availability and applicability of the given information, we take no liability.
Please discuss the suitability concerning your specific application with the experts of the named company or organization.

You want additional material or technology investigations concerning this subject?

Materialsgate is leading in material consulting and material investigation.
Feel free to use our established consulting services

MMore on this topic

Researchers from RMIT University have developed a new ultra-thin coating that responds to heat and cold, opening the door to “smart windows”.

The self-modifying coating, which is a thousand times thinner than a human hair, works by automatically letting in more heat when it’s cold and blocking the sun’s rays when it’s hot. Smart windows have the ability to naturally regulate temperatures inside a building, leading to major environmental benefits and significant financial savings. Lead investigator Associate Professor Madhu Bhaskaran said the breakthrough will help meet future energy needs and create temperature-responsive buildings. “We are making it possible to manufacture smart windows that block heat during summer and retain heat inside when the weather cools,” Bhaskaran said. “We lose most of our energy in... more read more

Surprisingly, melting hurts rather than helps, MIT research reveals.

When bonding two pieces of metal, either the metals must melt a bit where they meet or some molten metal must be introduced between the pieces. A solid bond then forms when the metal solidifies again. But researchers at MIT have found that in some situations, melting can actually inhibit metal bonding rather than promote it. The surprising and counterintuitive finding could have serious implications for the design of certain coating processes or for 3-D printing, which both require getting materials to stick together and stay that way. The research, carried out by postdocs Mostafa Hassani-Gangaraj and David Veysset and professors Keith Nelson and Christopher Schuh, was reported in two... more read more

The edible coating on produce has drawn a great deal of attention in the food and agricultural industry.

It could not only prolong postharvest shelf life of produce against external changes in the environment but also provide additional nutrients to be useful for human health. However, most versions of the coating have had intrinsic limitations in their practical application. First, highly specific interactions between coating materials and target surfaces are required for a stable and durable coating. Even further, the coating of bulk substrates, such as fruits, is time consuming or is not achievable in the conventional solution-based coating. In this respect, material-independent and rapid coating strategies are highly demanded. The research team led by Professor Insung Choi of the Department... more read more

Bonded layers of rubber and hydrogel yield tough, slippery, and impermeable coatings.

Catheters, intravenous lines, and other types of surgical tubing are a medical necessity for managing a wide range of diseases. But a patient’s experience with such devices is rarely a comfortable one. Now MIT engineers have designed a gel-like material that can be coated onto standard plastic or rubber devices, providing a softer, more slippery exterior that can significantly ease a patient’s discomfort. The coating can even be tailored to monitor and treat signs of infection. In a paper published today in the journal Advanced Healthcare Materials, the team describes their method for strongly bonding a layer of hydrogel — a squishy, slippery polymer material that consists mostly... more read more

MaterialsgateNEWSLETTER

Partner of the Week

Search in MaterialsgateNEWS

Books and products

MaterialsgateFAIR:
LET YOURSELF BE INSPIRED