Submitted to: Journal of Food Processing and Preservation
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: July 20, 2012
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Chlorinated water is commonly used for fresh-cut produce processing to prevent pathogen contamination. Organic materials released from the cut surfaces and soil can result in rapid free chlorine depletion, creating potential for cross contamination by bacterial pathogens. A novel wash aid, termed T-128, was evaluated and we report that the survival of E. coli O157:H7 cells in wash water containing high organic load was significantly reduced at the presence of T-128. This information should be of interest to fresh produce processors.
Technical Abstract: Chlorine is widely used as a sanitizer in commercial fresh-cut wash water for produce processing of bagged leafy greens. However, free chlorine depletion occurs rapidly when high organic content loads are introduced directly into the wash solution as part of the washing operation process. This chlorine depletion is a major concern for fresh produce processors because of its potential to contribute to cross-contamination through surface contact between contaminated and uncontaminated leaves and between uncontaminated leaves and contaminated wash solution by bacterial pathogens. A newly developed wash aid, T-128, was evaluated for its capacity to enhance the efficacy of chlorinated wash solution against E. coli O157:H7 in the presence of high organic loads. Results show that application of T-128 in chlorinated wash water significantly reduced the survival of E. coli O157:H7, hence the potential of cross-contamination, when free chlorine in solution dropped to levels approaching the detection limit due to the accumulation of organic materials.