Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Sciences


Luis J. Bastarrachea


Marie K. Walsh


David Britt


Microbial contamination and proliferation in food processing, distribution and storage continues to be a real risk in spite the wide variety of food processing and preservation techniques available. Some of these techniques (such as heat treatments and the use of chemical preservatives) may require substantial amounts of energy and their effects in the general population and the environment may be harmful. This has generated an interest over alternative methods of food preservation. The use of reusable light-activated materials may represent an effective approach. In this study, a polypropylene plastic was modified with either zein, which is found in corn, or chitosan, which can be found in the shell of crustacea, and tested it against E. coli K12 while also being exposed to UV-A light. Both materials displayed abilities to inactivate the bacteria by up to 94% over 10 cycles (1 cycle including contact with aqueous E. coli K12 and 30 min of UV-A light). Analysis of the surface through microscopic and infrared spectroscopy showed minor change in the materials. These materials have shown promise in inhibiting growth of bacteria, particularly in aqueous environments.



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