Four frozen vegetables (broccoli, corn, lima beans, and peas) were gamma irradiated at subfreezing temperatures ranging from −5 to −20°C to determine (i) the radiation sensitivity of an inoculated outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes (ATCC 49594), (ii) the effect of changing irradiation conditions (i.e., temperature) on that sensitivity, and (iii) the effect of the recommended radiation dose on the texture and color of irradiated frozen vegetables. The amounts of radiation necessary to reduce the bacterial population by 90% (D10-values) for L. monocytogenes differed significantly among vegetables at each irradiation temperature. D10 increased significantly with decreasing temperature for all vegetables, with each vegetable showing a different response pattern. At an irradiation temperature of −5°C, D10 ranged from 0.505 kGy for broccoli to 0.613 kGy for corn. At −20°C, D10 ranged from 0.767 kGy for lima beans to 0.916 kGy for peas. At −20°C, radiation doses sufficient to achieve a 5-log10 kill (3.9 to 4.6 kGy) caused significant softening of peas and broccoli stems but not of corn or lima beans. Lower doses of comparable antimicrobial efficacy delivered at −5°C (2.5 to 3.1 kGy) did not cause significant changes in texture in any vegetable. Color varied significantly among the dose-temperature combinations only for broccoli florets; this variation did not demonstrate a clear pattern of quality changes in response to irradiation.
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