There have been several recent outbreaks of salmonellosis and infections with Escherichia coli O157:H7 linked to the consumption of raw sprouts. Use of ionizing radiation was investigated as a means to reduce or to totally inactivate these pathogens, if present, on the sprouts. The radiation D value, which is the amount of irradiation in kilograys for a 1-log reduction in cell numbers, for these pathogens was established using a minimum of five doses at 19 ± 1°C. Before inoculation, the sprouts were irradiated to 6 kGy to remove the background microflora. The sprouts were inoculated either with Salmonella spp. cocktails made with either meat or vegetable isolates or with E. coli O157:H7 cocktails made with either meat or vegetable isolates. The radiation D values for the Salmonella spp. cocktails on sprouts were 0.54 and 0.46 kGy, respectively, for the meat and vegetable isolates. The radiation D values for the E. coli O157:H7 cocktails on sprouts were 0.34 and 0.30 kGy, respectively, for the meat and vegetable isolates. Salmonella was not detected by enrichment culture on sprouts grown from alfalfa seeds naturally contaminated with Salmonella after the sprouts were irradiated to a dose of 0.5 kGy or greater. Ionizing radiation is a process that can be used to reduce the population of pathogens on sprouts.
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