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Pulsed light and formic acid treatments on inactivation of Salmonella enterica on cherry tomato

 

Fresh produce remains the leading cause of foodborne illness outbreaks. Novel nonthermal technologies are needed to reduce the risk of pathogen contamination. The objective of this study carried out by US Researchers and published in Food Control journal was to develop a novel intervention technology exploiting integration of high intensity short time (10 s) pulsed light (PL) and aerosolized formic acid (AFA) for inactivation of Salmonella and maintenance of quality of cherry tomato. 

Smooth surface of tomatoes, inoculated with a cocktail containing three serotypes of Salmonella enterica, was treated with PL for 10 s followed by 2 min treatment with 1% AFA. Non-inoculated tomatoes were used to study the treatment effects on native microflora and quality. PL delivered significant inactivation at low doses. An optimal 10 s PL treatment equivalent to a dose of 10.5 J/cm2, provided 2.2 log CFU/g reduction while a 2 min exposure in 1% AFA antimicrobial yielded comparatively low, 1.7 log CFU/g reductions of Salmonella on tomato. The combination treatments of PL (10 s) followed by 1% AFA (2 min) provided additive inactivation yielding 4.2 log CFU/g reductions (P ≤ 0.05) of the pathogen. During cold storage (10 °C) the survivor population declined further providing 4.8 log CFU/g reductions on day 21. The combination PL-AFA treatment significantly reduced the native microbiota of tomato and also hindered their growth while in storage for three weeks. Mold and yeast (M&Y) spoilage organism populations declined to below the detection level. Furthermore, the quality factors as firmness and color of tomatoes were not significantly affected by the combination treatments. The treatment boosted the redness appearance of tomatoes indicating favorable consumer acceptability. Overall, our results demonstrate that combination of PL and AFA treatment could potentially be used as a novel approach to enhance microbial safety and quality of tomatoes.

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