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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Efficacy of Washing and Sanitizing Methods for Disinfection of Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Products

item Sapers, Gerald -

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: November 8, 2001
Publication Date: N/A

Technical Abstract: In recent years, as a consequence of the increasing number of produce- related outbreaks of food-borne illness, greater attention has been given to interventions that kill or remove human pathogens on fresh produce. A key goal of washing and sanitizing treatments, therefore, is removal or inactivation of such pathogens. However, published information suggests that conventional washing and sanitizing methods, even using newer sanitizing agents, are not capable of reducing microbial populations by more than 90 or 99%, although greater efficacy is required to assure product safety. The response of microorganisms to washing and sanitizing treatments will depend in part on the conditions of contamination that affect attachment and survival on produce surfaces. Major factors limiting decontamination efficacy include strength and rapidity of microbial attachment, inaccessibility of attachment sites, attachment and growth in cuts and punctures, internalization of microbial contaminants within plant tissues, and biofilm formation. The performance of conventional produce washing equipment and washing and sanitizing agents in reducing microbial loads is examined. Recent improvements in washing and sanitizing technology are described. New approaches to washing and sanitizing produce that overcome the barriers limiting human pathogen detachment and inactivation include vacuum infiltration of sanitizing agents, application of sanitizers in the vapor phase, and surface pasteurization with hydrogen peroxide solution at 80 deg C.

Last Modified: 4/21/2015
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