ABSTRACT

Raw chia and flax seeds are increasingly associated with Salmonella contamination. However, intervention technologies for these seeds that maintain them in a raw state, without causing clumping because of mucilage production upon moisture exposure, are limited. In this study, a commercial ethanol and paracetic acid sanitizing solution meeting these criteria was evaluated for efficacy against Salmonella and Enterococcus faecium NRRL B-2354, a known Salmonella surrogate for thermal intervention technologies. Samples (100 g each) of chia and flax seeds (n = 5) were inoculated with either a cocktail of Salmonella Newport, Senftenberg, Oranienburg, Saintpaul, Typhimurium DT104, and Cubana or E. faecium NRRL B-2354. After overnight acclimatization, samples were treated with 4 mL of sanitizing solution per sample and then held at ambient temperature (20 to 25°C) for 1 h before bacterial enumeration. Separate 1-kg–treated batches were evaluated for germination ability (4 replicates of 100-g samples), as well as nutrient content and rancidity (n = 3), compared with untreated control. Following the posttreatment holding time, these batches were dried back to original moisture content at 70°C to evaporate residual sanitizing solution, thereby stopping treatment. The sanitizing solution was found to be an effective intervention method for chia and flax seeds, reducing Salmonella to below the level of detection by more than 4 and more than 5 average log CFU/g, respectively. Germination was not significantly affected (P ≥ 0.05) for chia seed. For both seeds, nutrition and rancidity were not significantly affected (P ≥ 0.05). Furthermore, E. faecium NRRL B-2354 was found to be an appropriate Salmonella surrogate for treatment of chia and flax seeds with this sanitizing solution, showing comparable but higher resistance to treatment with the sanitizing solution than the Salmonella cocktail.

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