Veg-Fresh's packaging for organic (left) and conventional Brussels sprouts will contain pathogen-fighting properties. ( Courtesy Veg-Fresh Farms )

(UPDATED) Veg-Fresh Farms, Corona, Calif., is using packaging to fight pathogens — and not just as a barrier during transport and on retail shelves.

The company is using Smart Plastic Technologies to add anti-microbial properties to the film packaging itself. The film is being used for conventional and organic Brussels sprouts packages, with plans to use Smart Plastic with clamshells, lidding film and more, according to a news release.

Smart Plastic Technologies have an array of plastic additives that are designed to address a number of specific issues, including food safety. They are added in the production of the films in “very small percentages,” along with other standard ingredients, according to the release, and are effective against salmonella, listeria, E. coli and numerous other organisms, promising a 99.9% reduction in bacteria.

The additives aren't a "kill step" for pathogens, but tests have confirmed a pathogen reduction under normal shipping and retail circumstance, and the plastic will inhibit the growth of pathogens "that may become present," according to a Veg-Fresh spokeswoman.

Bob Wright, chief operations officer at Veg-Fresh Farms, said the company has been in contact with Smart Plastic Technologies for a few years.

“We have been closely following their independent testing trials and have been thoroughly impressed with the technology they provide,” Wright said in the release. “It is a natural fit to incorporate this technology into our packaging. Foodborne illness is one of the top threats to this industry, and we are committed to taking advantage of new technology to keep our customer’s food as fresh, safe and healthy as possible.”

The company plans to include consumer messaging on the packaging about Smart Plastic in 2021.

Smart Plastic additives include:

  • SPTek Gard: A pathogen control approved by the Food and Drug Administration that’s compatible with a number of plastic types and is 100% recyclable;
  • SPTek Servo: Anti-fungal additive to extend shelf life of certain foods; and
  • SPTek Konserv: An “oxygen scavenger” additive to extend shelf life of fruit and other foods.

Veg-Fresh Farms packs fruits and vegetables under the Veg-Fresh Farms, Crystal Cove Berry Farms, and Good Life Organic labels.

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