Washing produce with sanitizing solutions is an important step in reducing microbial populations during postharvest handling. Little information exists regarding the effects of washing solution flow conditions on the efficacy of pathogen reduction during washing. This study was undertaken to investigate the effects of washing conditions such as flow velocity, agitation rate, and contact time on the reduction of Escherichia coli O157:H7 populations from the surfaces of cantaloupe rind and cut apples. Top surfaces of cylindrical samples were spot inoculated with E. coli O157:H7 and treated with peroxyacetic acid (POAA; 80 mg/liter) solution under different flow velocities and agitation rates and with different washing modes. Test results indicate that the reduction rate of E. coli O157:H7 increased with the increase in flow velocity and agitation rate under the testing conditions. In a 3-min treatment in the flow-through chamber, the E. coli O157:H7 count reduction on cantaloupe rind and cup apples reached 2.5 and 2.3 log CFU/cm2, respectively, when the flow velocity increased from 0.0 to 0.8 m/min. Agitation conducted at the bottom of the treatment chamber reduced the E. coli O157.H7 population on cut apples by 1.2 log CFU/cm2 in 3 min, whereas in the treatment with the agitation over the top of the chamber, the survival count of E. coli O157:H7 was reduced by only 0.8 log CFU/cm2. The experimental data were used to fit four microbial reduction kinetic models. It was found that E. coli O157:H7 reduction from the fruit surfaces was best described by the Weibull model. These findings may be useful in designing produce wash systems for achieving enhanced pathogen reduction and improved produce quality and safety.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Food Science