Main content area

Dielectric barrier discharge atmospheric cold plasma inhibits Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, and Tulane virus in Romaine lettuce

Min, Sea C., Roh, Si Hyeon, Niemira, Brendan A., Sites, Joseph E., Boyd, Glenn, Lacombe, Alison
International journal of food microbiology 2016 v.237 pp. 114-120
Escherichia coli O157, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella, bacteria, cold, cold storage, decontamination, leaves, nylon, oxygen, packaging, pathogens, polyethylene, romaine lettuce, viruses, volatilization
The present study investigated the effects of dielectric barrier discharge atmospheric cold plasma (DACP) treatment on the inactivation of Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, and Tulane virus (TV) on Romaine lettuce, assessing the influences of moisture vaporization, modified atmospheric packaging (MAP), and post-treatment storage on the inactivation of these pathogens. Romaine lettuce was inoculated with E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella, L. monocytogenes (~6logCFU/g lettuce), or TV (~2logPFU/g lettuce) and packaged in either a Petri dish (diameter: 150mm, height: 15mm) or a Nylon/polyethylene pouch (152×254mm) with and without moisture vaporization. Additionally, a subset of pouch-packaged leaves was flushed with O2 at 5% or 10% (balance N2). All of the packaged lettuce samples were treated with DACP at 34.8kV for 5min and then analyzed either immediately or following post-treatment storage for 24h at 4°C to assess the inhibition of microorganisms. DACP treatment inhibited E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella, L. monocytogenes, and TV by 1.1±0.4, 0.4±0.3, 1.0±0.5logCFU/g, and 1.3±0.1logPFU/g, respectively, without environmental modifications of moisture or gas in the packages. The inhibition of the bacteria was not significantly affected by packaging type or moisture vaporization (p>0.05) but a reduced-oxygen MAP gas composition attenuated the inhibition rates of E. coli O157:H7 and TV. L. monocytogenes continued to decline by an additional 0.6logCFU/g in post-treatment cold storage for 24h. Additionally, both rigid and flexible conventional plastic packages appear to be suitable for the in-package decontamination of lettuce with DACP.