The inability of chlorine to completely inactivate human bacterial pathogens on whole and fresh-cut produce suggests a need for other antimicrobial washing treatments. Nisin (50 μg/ml) and pediocin (100 AU/ml) individually or in combination with sodium lactate (2%), potassium sorbate (0.02%), phytic acid (0.02%), and citric acid (10 mM) were tested as possible sanitizer treatments for reducing the population of Listeria monocytogenes on cabbage, broccoli, and mung bean sprouts. Cabbage, broccoli, and mung bean sprouts were inoculated with a five-strain cocktail of L. monocytogenes at 4.61, 4.34, and 4.67 log CFU/g, respectively. Inoculated produce was left at room temperature (25°C) for up to 4 h before antimicrobial treatment. Washing treatments were applied to inoculated produce for 1 min, and surviving bacterial populations were determined. When tested alone, all compounds resulted in 2.20- to 4.35-log reductions of L. monocytogenes on mung bean, cabbage, and broccoli, respectively. The combination treatments nisin–phytic acid and nisin–pediocin–phytic acid caused significant (P < 0.05) reductions of L. monocytogenes on cabbage and broccoli but not on mung bean sprouts. Pediocin treatment alone or in combination with any of the organic acid tested was more effective in reducing L. monocytogenes populations than the nisin treatment alone. Although none of the combination treatments completely eliminated the pathogen on the produce, the results suggest that some of the treatments evaluated in this study can be used to improve the microbial safety of fresh-cut cabbage, broccoli, and mung bean sprouts.
† Mention of trade names or commercial products is solely for the purpose of providing specific information and does not imply recommendation or endorsement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.