Food that could reduce COVID transmission
INGREDIENTS used in making food products can thicken and reduce saliva. It is one way of decreasing the transmission potential of airborne pathogens like those that cause COVID- 19, say researchers at the University of Central Florida (UCF).
The researchers – Michael Kinzel, PhD, and Kareem Ahmed, PhD – looked at combinations of food products that alters people’s saliva. The results of their study are published in the journal Nature
“This is a new concept in the context of source control,” says Dr. Kinzel, an Assistant Professor in UCF’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and the study co-author. “There are obviously masks, but this is the first research focusing on what comes out of one’s buccal cavity or mouth.”
The work builds on the Dr. Kinzel and Dr. Ahmed’s previous studies examining the effectiveness of masks in the classroom, features that could make someone a super spreader, and initial studies of food ingredients to control airborne disease transmission.
Dr. Ahmed i s an Associate Professor in UCF’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.
“The group has researched droplet formation for years,” Dr. Kinzel says. “When we heard sneezes transported aerosols over 27 feet early in the pandemic, we realized that this has to be small aerosols, similar to what you see in a misting nozzle. Our thinking has been, let’s focus on altering those droplets such that they fall to the ground and not travel so far.”
The researchers examined the characteristics of saliva, such as thickness and amount, and their influence on how far droplets and aerosols from a human’s sneeze travel, which are factors related to airborne pathogen transmission.
They used high-speed cameras to capture the sneezes frame-by-frame in mid-air. Then they employed image processing software to quantify droplets and aerosols.