An antimicrobial product used to disinfect and sanitize food contact surfaces in the restaurant and manufacturing industries is now being tested directly on food and has shown a “materially significant reduction” in Salmonella contamination on poultry. That’s according to Hank Lambert, CEO of PURE Bioscience Inc. of El Cajon, CA, the company that created and patented its silver dihydrogen citrate (SDC) product about a dozen years ago. SDC is a colorless, odorless and low-toxicity liquid containing silver ions, citric acid, water and other ingredients. Bacteria respond to the citric acid as a food source, and the active ingredients in SDC then cause irreversible damage to the microorganism’s DNA, reproductive functions stop, and the organism dies. The company claims that its product has 30-second bacterial and viral kill times and 24-hour residual protection. Salmonella is a serious problem in the poultry industry, and infection from the bacteria is a common source of foodborne illness. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates there are 1.2 million illnesses linked to Salmonella bacteria each year, with about 23,000 hospitalizations and 450 deaths. PURE® Hard Surface is registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for food surface decontamination applications, and SDC has been determined Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) for use as a biocide on food processing equipment, machinery and utensils. Besides Salmonella, the company notes that the SDC formula in PURE® Hard Surface is also effective on hazardous food pathogens such as E. coli and Campylobacter, as well as on a several types of viruses and fungi. PURE Bioscience’s new product, as yet unnamed, along with test results and other information, is about to be submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture for potential regulatory approval for direct food contact as a processing aid for poultry. Lambert told Food Safety News that Dr. James Marsden of Kansas State University’s Animal Science and Industry faculty has tested the SDC formula on poultry and is now embarking on additional tests of the product on produce (lettuce, cilantro and spinach) and meat (beef, pork, lamb and veal). “The results showed that the combination of treatments has the potential to reduce Salmonella on raw poultry products to levels below the detection limit when SDC is included in the process,” notes a company statement. Marsden will be preparing the submissions to USDA and FDA, which the company indicates would be made before the end of May. “These are specific approvals for specific food groups,” Lambert explained. “We would have to go through the [Food Contact Notification] process for produce and for the other meats. We might use different applications and dilutions.” PURE Bioscience has recently been repositioning itself to focus more on the food industry, said Lambert, who previously managed the food safety services business for Underwriters’ Laboratories (UL) and has also worked as a food industry and consumer products executive. He joined the company as CEO this past September in order to move the new agenda forward. “I was instantly attracted and interested in a food safety solution to take antimicrobial applications in the food industry to the next level and provide an increased level of protection against the pathogens that are so persistent throughout the food industry,” he said. Lambert said the next step would be arranging for pilot plant testing in USDA-inspected poultry processing plants. If everything goes well, he said that federal agency regulatory approvals could be in place by the end of the year.