The antimicrobial activity of a new nisin-based organic acid sanitizer (NOAS), developed in our laboratory, was tested against viable aerobic mesophilic bacteria and Salmonella populations inoculated on produce surfaces. The activity of NOAS was compared with 200 ppm of chlorinated wash water and a bioluminescence ATP technique to determine the efficacy of treatments compared with plate count methods. The activity of the 10% final concentration of NOAS against viable populations of 109 CFU/mL Salmonella in phosphate-buffered saline (PBS), sterile deionized distilled water, and buffered peptone water was tested in vitro and on grape tomatoes inoculated with Salmonella at 2.5 log CFU/g. A similar batch of inoculated tomatoes were treated with 200 ppm of total available chlorinated water. All treatments for inactivation of viable Salmonella in vitro was tested up to 30 min and 5 min for the attached populations on tomatoes. Inactivation of viable Salmonella at 109 log CFU/mL by 10% the NOAS solution averaged >107 log CFU/mL in PBS, sterile deionized distilled water, and buffered peptone water. Similarly, Salmonella bacteria inactivated on tomato surfaces by the NOAS solution was significantly (P < 0.05) greater than numbers on chlorinated washed tomatoes, and surviving bacterial populations on NOAS and chlorine-treated tomatoes were <1 and 4 CFU/g, respectively. A significant linear correlation coefficient (r2 = 0.99) between the bioluminescence ATP assay and aerobic plate counts of inoculated and untreated grape tomatoes were recorded but not with NOAS and chlorine-treated tomatoes, as bacterial populations were less than the minimum baseline for determination. Also, the results indicated that the NOAS solution is a better alternative antimicrobial wash solution than 200 ppm of chlorinated water.

  • The antimicrobial activity of NOAS was compared with chlorinated water.

  • Salmonella bacteria were more susceptible to NOAS than chlorinated water.

  • Assay correlated with aerobic plate count of inoculated and untreated tomatoes, not treated ones.

  • NOAS is an excellent alternative antimicrobial wash solution compared with chlorinated wash water.

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