ABSTRACT

As demand for fresh-cut produce increases, minimizing the risk of salmonellosis becomes critical for the produce industry. Sanitizers are routinely used during commercial flume washing of fresh-cut produce to minimize cross-contamination from the wash water. This study assessed the efficacy of a novel sanitizer blend consisting of peracetic acid (PAA; OxypHresh 15) with a sulfuric acid–surfactant (SS) antimicrobial (PAA-SS; ProduceShield Plus) against Salmonella during simulated commercial washing of diced tomatoes. Triplicate 9.1-kg batches of Roma tomatoes were dip inoculated in a two-strain avirulent Salmonella cocktail (Salmonella Typhimurium LT2 and MHM112) to achieve 5 to 6 log CFU per tomato and air dried for 2 h. After mechanical dicing, the tomatoes were washed in a pilot-scale processing line for 60 s with or without an added organic load in 90 ppm of PAA-SS (pH 1.8), SS at pH 1.8, 90 ppm of PAA, 5 or 10 ppm of free chlorine or sanitizer-free water as the control. Overall, PAA-SS (1.75 ± 0.75 log CFU/g) was significantly (P ≤ 0.05) more effective than water (0.69 ± 0.42 log CFU/g), chlorine (0.35 ± 0.36 log CFU/g), or SS (0.36 ± 0.19 log CFU/g) in reducing Salmonella. After washing for 20 s, PAA-SS was the only sanitizer to show a significant (P ≤ 0.05) reduction (1.93 ±0.59 log CFU/g) in Salmonella. All wash water samples were negative for Salmonella, except for 5 and 10 ppm of chlorine and the water control. Using PAA-SS with an organic load, yeast and mold populations were below the limit of detection (1.40 log CFU/g) and significantly (P ≤ 0.05) lower on diced tomatoes after 14 days of refrigerated storage compared with the other treatments (8.37 ± 0.08 log CFU/g), with SS at pH 1.8 (3.91 ± 0.93 log CFU/g) most effective against yeast and mold in the absence of an organic load. On the basis of these findings, the safety and shelf life of commercially washed diced tomatoes can be improved with PAA-SS.

HIGHLIGHTS
  • PAA-SS yielded lower Salmonella populations in diced tomatoes than did chlorine (P ≤ 0.05).

  • Salmonella was not detected in the wash water using PAA-SS.

  • PAA-SS decreased Salmonella 1.93 log after 20 s of washing.

  • PAA-SS yielded lower (P ≤ 0.05) yeast and mold populations after 14 days of storage.

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