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The North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University?s Centre for Excellence in Post Harvest Technologies (CEPHT) is on a mission to defeat pathogens that cause foodborne illnesses and treat outbreaks more effectively.
The North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University’s Centre for Excellence in Post Harvest Technologies (CEPHT) is on a mission to defeat pathogens that cause foodborne illnesses and treat outbreaks more effectively. CEPHT are one of eight universities, businesses and government organizations partnering at the North Carolina Research Campus (NCRS) to advance human health, nutrition and agriculture to prevent, treat and cure diseases.
According to The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the human and economic cost amounts to over 48 million foodborne illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations and over 3000 deaths a year.
CEPHT’s interim director, lead scientist and associate professor of food microbiology and biotechnology, Leonard L. Williams, PhD, said, “Pathogens cause a lot of deaths, sickness and hospitalization, which results in a tremendous economic burden with loss of work and doctor visits, and on the food industry with recalls and lawsuits. Foodborne illness is probably one of the most costly to treat.”
The remedies that are being developed are natural alternatives to the synthetic options that are currently used. “Bacteria have the ability to acquire resistance and mutate consistently. With natural extracts, they have not quite figured out how to change their genetic material to become resistant,” Williams said. Alongside his co-investigators from Alabama A&M University, he has found that sorrel (Hibiscus sabdariffa) has antimicrobial activity that can inhibit E. coli O157:H7.
Williams is also leading a study to track, test and isolate specific pathogens on lettuce, green onions, sprouts and spinach in North Carolina, California, the US Midwest and Mexico.