ABSTRACT

Dried parsley is regularly contaminated with foodborne pathogens, especially Salmonella. Application of contaminated ingredients in ready-to-eat dishes without further thermal treatment represents a considerable health risk. This study examined the suitability of pulsed light as a novel decontamination method of Salmonella in dried parsley, along with the impact on selected quality parameters (chlorophyll content, phenolic compounds, color, and odor) and product characters (temperature and water activity value). Samples were inoculated with one of three Salmonella isolates (Salmonella Cerro or one of two isolates of Salmonella Agona) at two contamination levels of 103 or 107 CFU/g and treated under various experimental factors, including distance to the light source and exposure time, resulting in fluences in the range of 1.8 to 19.9 J/cm2. At selected parameter settings (9.8 and 13.3 J/cm2), the effect of prolonged storage time (48 h) of inoculated samples before treatment on the reduction of Salmonella Cerro was examined. Samples treated at the same fluences were also stored for 35 days at 22 to 25°C. The three Salmonella isolates were significantly reduced by pulsed light (P < 0.05). Reduction factors ranged between 0.3 and 5.2 log CFU with varying sensitivities of the isolates. In general, increasing fluences (depending on exposure time and distance to the light source) resulted in increasing reductions of Salmonella. However, on closer examination, exposure time and distance to the light source had a varying influence on the reduction of the different Salmonella isolates. Decreasing reduction factors were observed by increasing the contamination level and prolonging the storage time of inoculated samples before treatment. No undesirable changes in quality parameters and sensory analysis were detectable at fluences of 9.8 and 13.3 J/cm2, indicating that pulsed light may be a suitable alternative for the decontamination of dried parsley.

HIGHLIGHTS
  • Pulsed light significantly reduces Salmonella in dried parsley.

  • Different sensitivities of Salmonella isolates to pulsed light are demonstrated.

  • Reduction efficiency is influenced by cell density and storage before treatment.

  • No negative impact on quality parameters is detectable.

  • Fluences of 9.8 and 13.3 J/cm2 are most suitable, without degradation in quality.

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