If during an average lifespan, one eats three meals a day, 365 days a year, for 75 years, then a person has both the gustative opportunities and health risks associated with consuming over 80,000 meals in a lifetime. These meals have the potential of causing illness if not properly prepared.
The number of foodborne illnesses associated with the consumption of fresh and minimally processed fruits and vegetables has dramatically increased in the past 30 years. Among these, seed sprouts pose an extreme risk with an average of over one billion bacterial cells/gram present, including potential pathogens such as Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Salmonella spp, which have caused sprout-associated international disease outbreaks. Traditional surface sanitizers, such as chlorine, have poor efficacy when used for fruits and vegetables, and current thermal inactivation is not feasible due to texture and sensory changes.