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Rechargeable Antimicrobial Surface Modification of Polyethylene

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Polyethylene films were surface modified, to incorporate amine and amide functionalities, and subsequently were evaluated for their ability to recharge the antimicrobial N-halamine structures after contact with sodium hypochlorite, a common food-approved sanitizer. Surfaces were tested for chlorine retention and release, as well as antimicrobial activity against microorganisms relevant to food quality and food safety, including Escherichia coli K-12, Pseudomonas fluorescens, Bacillus cereus, and Listeria monocytogenes. N-Halamine functionalized polyethylene exhibited chlorine rechargeability, maintaining 5 to 7 nmol/cm2 N-halamine structures for six successive charges. The N-halamine functionalized films achieved a 4-log reduction for all organisms tested and maintained a greater than 3-log reduction for four successive uses, suggesting that the modified polyethylene films are capable of providing rechargeable antimicrobial activity. The modified films exhibited antimicrobial activity in aqueous suspensions (P < 0.05) and reduced microbial growth in diluted broth (P < 0.05), suggesting the potential for biocidal action even in the presence of organic matter. Such a rechargeable antimicrobial surface could supplement existing cleaning and sanitation programs in food processing environments to reduce the adhesion, growth, and subsequent cross-contamination of food pathogens, as well as food spoilage organisms.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Food Science, Cornell University, Stocking Hall, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA

Publication date: October 1, 2008

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