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Effect of the Chlorinated Washing of Minimally Processed Vegetables on the Generation of Haloacetic Acids

Cardador, Maria Jose, Gallego, Mercedes
Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 2012 v.60 no.29 pp. 7326-7332
Environmental Protection Agency, byproducts, carcinogenicity, chlorination, chlorine, derivatization, detection limit, disinfection, drinking water, food industry, fresh-cut foods, gas chromatography, haloacetic acids, headspace analysis, human health, mass spectrometry, risk, sanitizing, vegetables, washing, United States
Chlorine solutions are usually used to sanitize fruit and vegetables in the fresh-cut industry due to their efficacy, low cost, and simple use. However, disinfection byproducts such as haloacetic acids (HAAs) can be formed during this process, which can remain on minimally processed vegetables (MPVs). These compounds are toxic and/or carcinogenic and have been associated with human health risks; therefore, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has set a maximum contaminant level for five HAAs at 60 μg/L in drinking water. This paper describes the first method to determine the nine HAAs that can be present in MPV samples, with static headspace coupled with gas chromatography–mass spectrometry where the leaching and derivatization of the HAAs are carried out in a single step. The proposed method is sensitive, with limits of detection between 0.1 and 2.4 μg/kg and an average relative standard deviation of ∼8%. From the samples analyzed, we can conclude that about 23% of them contain at least two HAAs (<0.4–24 μg/kg), which showed that these compounds are formed during washing and then remain on the final product.