Methyl bromide fumigation, the most accepted quarantine treatment for dates and many other dried commodities, will be phased out by 2015 worldwide. As a result, there is a critical need to develop durable alternatives for methyl bromide as postharvest treatments of agricultural commodities. This article presents a new method for postharvest treatment of Kabkab dates (Phoenix dactylifera L.) by application of gaseous ozone to reduce or eliminate all life stages (adults, larvae, and eggs) of Indian meal moth (Plodia interpunctella) and sawtooth grain beetle (Oryzaephilus surinamensis). The effect of the ozonation process on the sugar content of dates was also evaluated. Infested dates were exposed to ozone concentrations of 600, 1,200, 2,000, and 4,000 ppm for 1 and 2 h. As insect eggs are known to be most tolerant to many chemical or physical treatments, they were additionally exposed to an atmosphere of pure carbon dioxide prior to ozonation. Exposing samples to ozone concentrations of >2,000 ppm for 2 h resulted in complete mortality of larvae and adults. Exposure to 4,000 ppm of ozone for 2 h resulted in 80% mortality of eggs, and exposure to CO2 prior to ozonation did not improve the effect of ozonation on eggs. Ozone did not have any influence on the sugar content of Kabkab dates.

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