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ARS Home » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #171697


item Huang, Lihan

Submitted to: Journal of Food Process Engineering
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/24/2005
Publication Date: 9/1/2005
Citation: Huang, L. 2005. Computer-controlled microwave heating to in-package pasteurize beef frankfurters for elimination of listeria monocytogenes. Journal of Food Process Engineering. 453-477.

Interpretive Summary: Listeria monocytogenes is a serious foodborne pathogen frequently associated with ready-to-eat meat and poultry products regulated by FSIS. This research developed a pasteurization technology using computer-controlled microwave heating to kill this bacterium within the packages. More than 7-log reductions in the bacterial counts were observed in the laboratory. If optimized, it can provide the food industry with a technology to manufacture Listeria-free ready-to-eat meats for US consumers.

Technical Abstract: The objective of this study was to develop a terminal in-package pasteurization technology to kill Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat meats using microwave heating. This technology utilized an infrared sensor to measure and monitor the surface temperature of beef frankfurters contained in plastic bags in a small household microwave oven. The aim was to raise the surface temperature of frankfurters to a set-point lethal to L. monocytogenes, and then continue to maintain it for an extended period of time. An on-off feedback control mechanism was used to control the power supply to the microwave oven. Results indicated that the simple on-off control mechanism was able to maintain the surface temperature of beef frankfurters near the respective set-points of 75, 80, or 85°C used in this study. The computer-controlled microwave heating was able to achieve a 7-log reduction of L. monocytogenes in beef frankfurters. If optimized, this study potentially may provide the food industry with a terminal, post-lethality pasteurization technology to kill L. monocytogenes in ready-to-eat meats within the final packages.