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Food Safety

Since 2017, the Carter Lab was involved in the  ARC Training Centre in Fresh Food Safety, which was set up by Professor Robyn McConchie and aimed to address current skills shortages in food safety and produce new data on fresh food safety strategies. Dee took over as director of this Centre from 2020-21.  The Centre investigated microbiological risks on the farm and post-harvest, with the aim of informing industry on best practice to reduce and manage risk.  Details of these projects can be found on the Training Centre website. Dee remains involved in work to improve sanitizer systems that are applied to produce, including use of the novel sanitizer, plasma activated water (PAW).

Improved and novel sanitizer systems for fresh produce


Rock melons (cantaloupes)  are particularly hard to sanitize due to their rough outer skins


Although bleach is an effective sanitizer it causes health and environmental problems.

Improving food safety using sanitizer systems

Fresh food is a major safety concern as unlike many other foodstuffs there is no capacity to reduce contamination by thermal killing.  Consumer demand for produce that is free from preservatives and undamaged, and environmental concerns over wash water systems and waste, add to the challenge of ensuring that fresh fruit and vegetables are high quality and safe.  Our work in this are has been on both ensuring existing systems are optimal and developing new methods, with plasma-activated water (PAW) being particularly promising.

Jenns, K., Hannah P. Sassi, H.P., Zhou, R., Cullen, P.J., Carter, D.A. and Mai-Prochnow, A. (2022)  Inactivation of foodborne viruses: Opportunities for cold atmospheric plasma.  Trends in Food Science and Technology 124:3323-333

Rothwell, R.G., Alam, D., Carter, D.A., Soltani., McConchie, R., Zhou, R., Cullen, P.J & Mai-Prochnow, M.  The Antimicrobial Efficacy Of Plasma Activated Water Is Modulated By Reactor Design And Water Composition.  Journal of Applied Microbiology 132(4):2490-2500

Rothwell, R.G.,  Safianowicz, K., McConchie, R., Bell, T.L., Carter, D.A. and Bradbury, M. I.  (2021) Mixing postharvest fungicides and sanitizers results in unpredictable survival of microbes that affect cantaloupes. Food Microbiology. 2021 99:103797. DOI: 10.1016/

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