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New technology for enhancement of the food safety of minimally processed fruits and vegetables

Lopez-Gomez, A., Soto-Jover, S., Ros-Chumillas, M.
Acta horticulturae 2018 no.1194 pp. 545-552
Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes, Pseudomonas, Salmonella Enteritidis, antimicrobial properties, chemical compounds, decontamination, essential oils, fruits, good manufacturing practices, lactic acid bacteria, lettuce, methodology, microbial load, molds (fungi), packaging, pathogens, sensory properties, shelf life, spoilage microorganisms, vapors, washing, yeasts
Despite the increase in control and good manufacturing practices in preparation and packaging of minimally processed fruits and vegetables, it is not uncommon that these products present high microbial loads, both spoilage microorganisms that limit their shelf life, as pathogens among which can be found Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella enteritidis, and Escherichia coli. This is why different solutions for washing and surface decontamination of these products have been proposed, mainly using natural chemical compounds. One of such proposals is the application of essential oils (EOs), but this may have the disadvantage of adversely altering the sensory properties of the product. Therefore, ways of application using very low doses of Eos were sought. The application of EOs in vapor phase has proved to have good antimicrobial efficacy with relatively low doses. In this way, a new technique developed by the authors (at the Universidad Polit├ęcnica de Cartagena) that can apply vapors of EOs along with the modified atmosphere gases inside the sealed package is presented in this paper. With this new technique, we can achieve a reduction of 1 to 3 Log units in spoilage microorganisms (Pseudomonas, lactic acid bacteria, molds and yeasts) and pathogens (E. coli, Salmonella and L. monocytogenes), allowing a significantly increased shelf life for these produces. For example, by applying this technique a shelf life in fresh cut 'Iceberg' lettuce of 21 days was achieved.