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Role of commercial sanitizers and washing systems on epiphytic microorganisms and sensory quality of fresh-cut escarole and lettuce

AuthorsAllende, Ana CSIC ORCID ; Selma, María Victoria CSIC ORCID ; López-Gálvez, Francisco CSIC ORCID; Villaescusa, Raquel CSIC; Gil Muñoz, M.ª Isabel
KeywordsLeafy vegetables
Natural microflora
Minimally processing
Issue Date7-Mar-2008
CitationPostharvest Biology and Technology 49(1): 155-163 (2008)
AbstractIncreasing concerns about the possible formation of carcinogenic compounds and the emergence of new, more tolerant pathogens, have raised questions on the use of chlorine in fresh-cut produce. There is a growing need to investigate the efficacy of new commercial sanitizing and other alternative technologies. In the present study, the effectiveness of chlorine and other commercial sanitizer agents (Sanova, Sanoxol 20, Tsunami 100, Purac FCC 80, Citrox 14W and Catallix) was evaluated on epiphytic microorganisms and their influence on the sensory quality of fresh-cut escarole and lettuce. Different sanitizer concentrations (manufacturer's recommended dose and half of this dose) and application systems (submersion and spray) were also compared. The antimicrobial efficacy of the treatments was evaluated, initially after washing, and after 8 days of storage simulating a commercial shelf-life (3 days at 4 °C + 5 days at 8 °C). All the tested washing solutions were more effective in reducing the microbial load than water washes, particularly in fresh-cut escarole. However, the microbial load of fresh-cut escarole and lettuce after 8 days of storage was very similar for most of the treatments despite the different application systems and concentrations of the sanitizers. Clearly epiphytic microorganisms of fresh-cut escarole and lettuce were able to grow rapidly during storage under low temperature, reaching similar or higher values than the unwashed fresh-cut produce at the day of production. The overall visual quality of fresh-cut salad leaves was scored as good or very good (≥6) after 8 days of storage, except for the product washed with Purac. Thus, despite the high number of mesophilic bacteria present in the product, between 6 and 8 log cfu g−1, it was not associated with a detrimental quality. Therefore, the determination of the initial epiphytic reductions of fresh-cut products after washing with different sanitizing agents provides little information about the microbial or sensory quality of the product at the time of consumption.
Description9 pages, 5 figures, 5 tables.
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