Submitted to: Annual Meeting of the Institute of Food Technologists
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: December 10, 2004
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: The Fresh-cut produce industry has been rapidly growing in response to the consumer's demand for freshness and convenience. However, short shelf-life and the potential concerns over pathogen contamination remain major challenges to the industry. New technologies to improve product quality and reduce pathogen contamination are urgently needed. Acidified sodium chlorite (ASC) has recently been approved by the FDA as a new sanitizer for dip or spray application on fresh produce. 1-Methylcyclopropene (1-MCP) has been successfully used in the fresh apple industry to extend shelf-life by blocking the effect of the plant-aging hormone, ethylene. Research reports on the application of both ASC and 1-MCP on fresh-cut produce are limited. This paper presents studies on the efficacy of ASC to inactivate Escherichia coli O157:H7 and the impact on quality of fresh-cut carrots, cilantro, and apples. The effect of the combination treatment of ASC and 1-MCP on the quality and safety of fresh-cut cilantro will also be discussed. Results indicate that ASC is a strong sanitizing agent with up to 5 log CFU/g reductions of E.coli O157:H7 on various fresh-cut produce. ASC also removes the spoilage microflora from the surfaces of this produce. The combination treatment of ASC and 1-MCP resulted in the least decay rate and highest overall quality scores of fresh-cut cilantro packaged under modified atmosphere conditions. These studies demonstrate that the simultaneous use of ASC and 1-MCP can potentially combine the benefits of pathogen control and postharvest physiological response that the two treatments provide when applied individually, in order to improve quality and extend the shelf life of fresh-cut produce.