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Atmospheric cold plasma process for vegetable leaf decontamination: A feasibility study on radicchio (red chicory, Cichorium intybus L.)
- Pasquali, Frederique, Stratakos, Alexandros Ch., Koidis, Anastasios, Berardinelli, Annachiara, Cevoli, Chiara, Ragni, Luigi, Mancusi, Rocco, Manfreda, Gerardo, Trevisani, Marcello
- Food control 2016 v.60 pp. 552-559
- Cichorium intybus, Escherichia coli O157, Listeria monocytogenes, air, antioxidant activity, chlorine, cold, decontamination, green leafy vegetables, leaves, nonthermal processing, washing
- Cold plasma is an emerging non-thermal processing technology that could be used for large scale leaf decontamination as an alternative to chlorine washing. In this study the effect of an atmospheric cold plasma apparatus (air DBD, 15 kV) on the safety, antioxidant activity and quality of radicchio (red chicory, Cichorium intybus L.) was investigated after 15 and 30 min of treatment (in afterglow at 70 mm from the discharge, at 22 °C and 60% of RH) and during storage. Escherichia coli O157:H7 inoculated on radicchio leaves was significantly reduced after 15 min cold plasma treatment (−1.35 log MPN/cm2). However, a 30 min plasma treatment was necessary to achieve a significant reduction of Listeria monocytogenes counts (−2.2 log CFU/cm2). Immediately after cold plasma treatment, no significant effects emerged in terms of antioxidant activity assessed by the ABTS and ORAC assay and external appearance of the radicchio leaves. Significant changes between treated and untreated radicchio leaves are quality defects based on the cold plasma treatment. Atmospheric cold plasma appears to be a promising processing technology for the decontamination of leafy vegetables although some criticalities, that emerged during storage, need to be considered in future studies.