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J Food Prot. 2008 Oct;71(10):2042-7.

Rechargeable antimicrobial surface modification of polyethylene.

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


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.

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