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Effects of UV-C treatment on inactivation of Salmonella enterica and Escherichia coli O157:H7 on grape tomato surface and stem scars, microbial loads, and quality

S. Mukhopadhyay, D.O. Ukuku, V. Juneja, X. Fan
Food control 2014 v.44 pp. 110-117
Escherichia coli O157, Salmonella, bruising (plant), color, detection limit, firmness, food contamination, food irradiation, food pathogens, food processing quality, food storage, food surfaces, grape tomatoes, lactic acid bacteria, lycopene, microbial load, raw vegetables, sanitizing, serotypes, shelf life, storage time, texture, ultraviolet radiation, yeasts
The purpose of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of ultraviolet-C (UV-C) light inactivation as affected by the location of pathogens on the surface and at stem scars of whole grape tomatoes. A mixed bacterial cocktail containing a three strain mixture of Escherichia coli O157:H7 (C9490, E02128 and F00475) and a three serotype mixture of Salmonella enterica (S. Montevideo G4639, S. Newport H1275, and S. Stanley H0558) were used. Tomatoes were spot inoculated using approximately 100 μL of inocula to achieve a population of about 107±1 CFU/tomato. Additionally, the effects of treatment on color, texture, lycopene content, and background microbial loads during post UV-C storage at 4 °C for 21 days were determined. Results showed that UV-C doses of 0.60–6.0 kJ/m2 resulted in 2.3–3.5 log CFU per fruit reduction of E. coli O157:H7 compared to 2.15–3.1 log CFU per fruit reduction for Salmonella on the surfaces. Under the same conditions, log reductions achieved at stem scar were 1.7–3.2 logs CFU for E. coli O157:H7 and 1.9–2.8 logs CFU for Salmonella. The treatment was effective in controlling native microbial loads during storage at 4 °C as the total aerobic mesophilic organisms (PCA) and anaerobic lactic acid bacteria (LAB) counts of treated tomatoes were significantly (p < 0.05) lower during storage compared to the control group and the yeast and mold populations were reduced significantly below the detection limit. Furthermore, the firmness of tomato and its color was not affected by the UV-C doses during storage. UV-C radiation could potentially be used for sanitizing fresh tomatoes and extending shelf-life. The results of this study indicate that the specific location of pathogens on the produce influences the effectiveness of UV-C treatment, which should be taken into consideration for the design of UV-C systems for produce sanitization.