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Evaluation of Hot Water, Gaseous Chlorine Dioxide, and Chlorine Treatments in Combination with an Edible Coating for Enhancing Safety, Quality, and Shelf Life of Fresh-Cut Cantaloupes

Alicea, Cristina, Annous, Bassam A., Mendez, Daiza P., Burke, Angela, Orellana, Lynette E.
Journal of food protection 2018 v.81 no.4 pp. 534-541
Salmonella enterica, cantaloupes, chlorine, chlorine dioxide, coatings, color, edible films, fresh-cut produce, microbiological quality, pathogens, salmonellosis, sensory properties, serotypes, shelf life, storage temperature, storage time, texture, Michigan
Fresh-cut cantaloupes have been implicated in numerous foodborne outbreaks of salmonellosis. Commercial aqueous wash treatments are limited in their ability to inactivate Salmonella enterica. Our objective was to evaluate the efficacy of hot water, gaseous chlorine dioxide, and chlorine on enhancing microbial safety and sensory qualities of fresh-cut cantaloupes. Cantaloupes were inoculated with an S. enterica cocktail (serovars Michigan, Mbandaka, and Poona) and treated with chlorine (200 ppm of free chlorine) for 40 min, 5 mg/L gaseous chlorine dioxide for 4.5 h, and hot water (76.1°C) for 3 min. Fresh-cut cantaloupes were prepared from treated whole cantaloupes and divided into two sets; one set of samples was treated with NatureSeal to evaluate its effect on shelf life and sensory quality and the second set (control) was packed without further treatment. Fresh-cut samples were stored at 4°C for up to 21 days. For the sensory quality parameters analyzed (color, water loss, and texture), the samples treated with NatureSeal had significantly better quality (P < 0.05) than did the control samples. All treatments significantly reduced (P < 0.05) the pathogen populations on the rind of the whole melons and on the fresh-cut samples prepared from the treated melons. All fresh-cut samples prepared from melons treated with hot water were negative for Salmonella throughout the storage period except for the samples treated with hot water and NatureSeal and evaluated on day 7. The fresh-cut samples prepared from melons treated with chlorine dioxide and chlorine were negative for Salmonella after 21 days of storage. These results provide a framework to producers of fresh-cut cantaloupes for the potential use of hot water as an intervention treatment in combination with NatureSeal for enhancing the microbiological safety and quality of this commodity.