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Evaluation of a sanitizing washing step with different chemical disinfectants for the strawberry processing industry

AuthorsOrtiz Solà, J.; Abadias, M.; Colás Medà, P.; Sánchez, Gloria; Viñas, Inmaculada
KeywordsPeracetic acid
Organic acids
Listeria monocytogenes
Salmonella enterica
Issue Date8-Aug-2020
CitationInternational Journal of Food Microbiology 334: 108810 (2020)
AbstractStrawberries are often consumed fresh or only receive minimal processing, inducing a significant health risk to the consumer if contamination occurs anywhere from farm to fork. Outbreaks of foodborne illness associated with strawberries often involve a broad range of microbiological agents, from viruses (human norovirus) to bacteria (Salmonella spp. and Listeria monocytogenes). The addition of sanitizers to water washes is one of the most commonly studied strategies to remove or inactivate pathogens on berries as well as avoid cross contamination due to reuse of process wash water. The risk posed with the safety issues of by-products from chlorine disinfection in the fruit industry has led to a search for alternative sanitizers. We evaluated the applicability of different chemical sanitizers (peracetic acid (PA), hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), citric acid (CA), lactic acid (LA) and acetic acid (AA)) for the inactivation of S. enterica, L. monocytogenes and murine norovirus (MNV-1) on strawberries. A control treatment with chlorine (NaClO) (100 ppm) was included. For each sanitizer, different doses (40, 80 and 120 ppm for PA and 1, 2.5 and 5% for H2O2, LA, AA and CA) and time (2 and 5 min) were studied in order to optimize the decontamination washing step. The best concentrations were 80 ppm for PA, 5% for H2O2 and 2.5% for organic acids (LA, AA and CA) after 2 min treatment. Results indicate that the sanitizers selected may be a feasible alternative to chlorine (100 ppm) for removing selected pathogenic microorganisms (P > 0.05), with reductions about ≥2 log for bacterial strains and ≥ 1.7 log for MNV-1. As the washing water may also increase the microbial counts by cross-contamination, we observed that no pathogenic bacteria were found in wash water after 5% H2O2 and 80 ppm PA after 2 min treatment. On the other hand, we also reported reductions about total aerobic mesophyll (TAM) (0.0–1.4 log CFU/g) and molds and yeasts (M&Y) (0.3–1.8 log CFU/g) with all alternative sanitizers tested. Strawberries treated did not shown significant differences about physio-chemical parameters compared to the untreated samples (initial). For this study, the optimal sanitizer selected was PA, due to the low concentration and cost needed and its microbiocidal effect in wash water and fruit. Notwithstanding the results obtained, the effect of PA in combination with other non-thermal technologies such as water-assisted ultraviolet (UV-C) light should be studied in future research to improve the disinfection of strawberries.
Publisher version (URL)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2020.108810
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