Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: February 25, 2006
Publication Date: April 20, 2006
Citation: Fan, X., Annous, B.A., Mattheis, J.P. 2006. Hot water surface treatment and gamma irradiation reduce microbial population and maintain quality of fresh-cut cantaloupe. International Fresh-cut Produce Association and S-294 Multi-State Research Project Meeting April 27-30, 2006, Baltimore, MD. Abstract #022-06, p. 13. Technical Abstract: Consumption of cantaloupe has been linked to a number of outbreaks due to contamination with foodborne pathogens. During cutting and processing, pathogens on the surface of whole fruit may be transferred onto fresh-cut pieces. Food safety intervention technologies are needed for both whole and cut melons. The objective of this study was to investigate the feasibility of using hot water treatment of whole melon in combination with low dose irradiation of cut fruit to reduce native microbial populations while maintaining the quality of fresh-cut cantaloupe. Whole cantaloupes were washed in tap water at 20 or 76 C for 3 min. Fresh-cut cantaloupe cubes, prepared from the washed fruit were then packaged in clamshell containers, and half the samples were exposed to 0.5 kGy of gamma radiation. Microflora and sensory qualities were determined during subsequent storage at 4 C over a period of 7 days. Results showed that hot water surface pasteurization reduced the microflora population by 3.3-logs on the surface of whole fruits, resulting in a lower microbial load on fresh-cut cubes. Irradiation of cubes prepared from 20 C-washed fruit to 0.5 kGy achieved similar low microbial load of the cubes as those prepared from hot water treated fruit. The combination of the two treatments resulted in further reductions (0.5-0.6 log unit) in bacterial population. Color, titratable acidity, pH, ascorbic acid, firmness, and drip loss were not consistently affected by treatment with irradiation, hot water or the combination of the two. Cubes prepared from hot water treated whole fruit had slightly lower soluble solids content. In conclusion, the combination of hot water pasteurization of whole cantaloupe and low dose irradiation of packaged fresh-cut melon can reduce the population of native microflora while maintaining quality of this product.