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Efficacy of Combined Sous Vide‐Microwave Cooking for Foodborne Pathogen Inactivation in Ready‐to‐Eat Chicory Stems

Renna, Massimiliano, Gonnella, Maria, de Candia, Silvia, Serio, Francesco, Baruzzi, Federico
Journal of food science 2017 v.82 no.7 pp. 1664-1671
Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes, aerobes, bacteria, chicory, food pathogens, freshness, microwave cooking, microwave radiation, molds (fungi), mortality, nutritive value, pasteurization, ready-to-eat foods, sous vide, stems, vacuum packaging, yeasts
There is a variety of different food processing methods, which can be used to prepare ready‐to‐eat foods. However, the need to preserve the freshness and nutritional qualities leads to the application of mild technologies which may be insufficient to inactivate microbial pathogens. In this work, fresh chicory stems were packed under a vacuum in films, which were transparent to microwaves. These were then exposed to microwaves for different periods of time. The application of sous vide microwave cooking (SV‐MW, 900 W, 2450 MHz), controlled naturally occurring mesophilic aerobic bacteria, yeasts and molds for up to 30 d when vacuum‐packed vegetables were stored at 4 °C. In addition, the process lethality of the SV‐MW 90 s cooking was experimentally validated. This treatment led to 6.07 ± 0.7 and 4.92 ± 0.65 log cfu/g reduction of Escherichia coli and Listeria monocytogenes inoculated over the chicory stems (100 g), respectively. With an initial load of 9 log cfu/g for both pathogens, less than 10 cfu/g of surviving cells were found after 90 s cooking. This shows that short‐time microwave cooking can be used to effectively pasteurize vacuum‐packed chicory stems, achieving >5 log cfu/g reduction of E. coli and L. monocytogenes.