The efficacy levels of practices used by consumers to wash smooth-surface fruits and vegetables were compared. Golden Delicious apples were spot inoculated near the blossom end with 50 μl of a cocktail of six serotypes of Salmonella enterica (with a total inoculum level of approximately 109 CFU per apple). The inoculum was dried for 1.5 h, and apples were either treated immediately or held for 24 h prior to treatment. Treatments included wetting with approximately 5 ml of water, vinegar (5% acidity), or a 200-ppm chlorine solution, rubbing for 5 or 30 s, rinsing with 200 to 600 ml of 24 or 43°C water, and drying with a sterile paper towel. Residual populations of Salmonella were determined by rubbing the treated apple for 30 s in 20 ml of Dey-Engley neutralizing broth and plating on tryptic soy agar and bismuth sulfite agar. Rubbing treatments carried out for 5 and 30 s both resulted in a significant reduction in Salmonella populations (1 log10 CFU per apple) relative to populations on samples held for 30 s. A 5-s rub followed by a 200-ml flowing-water rinse reduced populations by 3 log10 CFU per apple. No further decrease in population was obtained by rinsing with 400 or 600 ml of water. Increasing the rinse water temperature to 43°C did not significantly improve microbial removal. Drying the apple with a sterile paper towel resulted in an additional decrease of approximately 0.4 log10 CFU per apple. A reduction of 3.2 log10 CFU was achieved with a combination of wetting with water, rubbing for 5 s, rinsing with 200 ml of water, and drying with a paper towel for apples inoculated just prior to or 24 h before treatment. Reductions obtained for apples treated with 5% vinegar and with a 200-ppm chlorine solution were significantly larger (2.1 to 3.2 log10 CFU per apple, respectively) than those achieved with water.

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