Washing whole and cut produce by dipping or submerging in chlorinated water has a sanitizing effect, although reduction in microbial populations is minimal and is usually less than 100-fold. A study was undertaken to evaluate the efficacy of a spray application of chlorine in killing Salmonella, Escherichia coli O157:H7, Listeria monocytogenes, yeasts and molds, and total aerobic mesophilic microorganisms on whole apples, tomatoes, and lettuce leaves. Inoculated produce was treated (sprayed and then soaked) with water (control) or Solutions containing 200 or 2,000 ppm of chlorine for 0, 1,3, 5, or 10 min, rinsed with sterile water, and analyzed for populations (CFU/cm2) of target microorganisms. Compared to the control treatment, further reductions in numbers of pathogens of 0.35 to 2.30 log CFU/cm2 were achieved by treatment with chlorine. Chlorine was generally more effective at 2,000 ppm than at 200 ppm. Inactivation of microorganisms occurred essentially within 1 min after application of chlorine. These reductions are significant relative to populations of pathogenic microorganisms that may be present on produce. Spray application of chlorine to raw produce at food Service or household levels may be a suitable, and more convenient, alternative to treatment by dipping or submersion.

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