An antibacterial treatment consisting of 1.5% lactic acid plus 1.5% hydrogen peroxide at 40°C for 15 min was effective in reducing foodborne bacterial pathogens on raw apples. However, the effects of this treatment on an apple's sensory characteristics and the extent of consumers' willingness to use the treatment at home were not known. This study was undertaken to determine the sensory acceptability and chemical characteristics (pH, soluble solids, and total acidity) of apples subjected to the sanitizing treatment and to obtain information on consumers' purchase behavior, apple handling and consumption practices, and willingness to use an antibacterial treatment. Untrained consumers (n = 80) evaluated the appearance, color, aroma, flavor, texture, and overall appeal of untreated (control) and treated Red Delicious apples that had been stored at 5°C for 0, 6, and 10 days. Panelists used a nine-point hedonic scale (1 = “dislike extremely”; 5 = “neither like nor dislike”; 9 = “like extremely”) to evaluate sensory acceptability. Treatment and storage had no significant effect on the appearance, color, or aroma of the samples. Flavor ratings ranged from 6.2 (“like slightly”) to 7.0 (“like moderately”). There was no significant difference among any of the control and treated apples stored for 0 days or among those stored for 6 days. Although apples stored for 10 days received the lowest ratings (6.2 to 6.3), they still had an acceptable flavor (6, “like slightly”), and panelists could not perceive differences between the control samples and the treated samples on day 10. The same trends were noted in texture ratings and in overall liking ratings. Treatment and storage had a minimal effect on pH (range, 3.96 to 4.02), soluble solids (range, 11.8 to 12.9° Brix), and total acidity (range, 0.20 to 0.23% malic acid), which are important for apple flavor. Many consumers (87%) were concerned about fruit safety, and 53.2% were willing to try an antibacterial treatment at home. However, 74% would not be willing to use it if a 15-min heating-and-soaking step were required. Implementation of the treatment may be more feasible in the packinghouse than in the home.
†Present address: 206 Karls Building, Southwest Missouri State University, 901 South National Avenue, Springfield, MO 65804, USA.
‡Present address: Department of Animal Science, Box U-40, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269, USA.