Submitted to: Journal of Food Protection
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/20/2006
Publication Date: 7/9/2006
Citation: Ukuku, D.O., Kozempel, M.F., Fan, X. 2006. Effect of vacuum steam vacuum treatment on microbial quality of whole and fresh-cut cantloupe pieces. Journal of Food Protection. 69(7):1623-1629. Interpretive Summary: While there are numerous reports in the literature on use of chlorine as a sanitizer treatment for fresh produce, information on the use of other potential alternative treatment to reduce microbial transfer from cantaloupe surface to fresh-cut pieces is limited. In this study we vacuumed (0.1 s) the surface of whole cantaloupe, exposed the surface to steam for 0.1 s, and then vacuum the surface again for 0.5 s. to determine how this type of treatment will affect removal and transfer of bacteria from cantaloupe surface to fresh-cut pieces. The Vacuum/Steam/Vacuum (VSV) process reduced indigenous spoilage microflora on the surface of cantaloupes and the numbers transferred to fresh-cut pieces. Although presence and growth of mesophilic bacteria, yeast and mold and Pseudomonas spp were determined in fresh-cut samples during storage, the populations of these classes of organisms in fresh-cut pieces prepared from whole cantaloupe treated with VSV were very low. Also, texture and color of the fresh-cut pieces from the VSV treated whole melons were similar to that of the control. The results suggest that the VSV process may be used by the produce industry to enhance the microbial quality of fresh-cut cantaloupes.
Technical Abstract: Minimally processed fruits and vegetables have limited shelf life due to deterioration caused by spoilage microflora as well as physiological processes. Cutting may increase microbial spoilage of fruits through transfer of microflora on the outer surfaces to the interior tissue. The objectives of this study were to use the Vacuum/Steam/Vacuum (VSV) process to reduce indigenous spoilage microflora on the surface of cantaloupes, and to investigate the effects of such treatments on transfer of spoilage microflora from the cantaloupe surface to the fresh-cut melon during rind removal and cutting. Whole cantaloupes were treated in the VSV processor, and fresh-cut pieces prepared from treated and control samples were stored at 5 and 10 °C for up to 9 d. Presence and growth of mesophilic bacteria, yeast and mold and Pseudomonas spp were determined in fresh-cut samples during storage. Texture and color (CIE L*, a*, b*) also were measured during storage. VSV treatment resulted in a significant reduction of aerobic mesophilic bacteria, yeast and mold and Pseudomonas spp on cantaloupe surfaces. VSV treatment significantly reduced transfer of spoilage microflora from whole cantaloupe surface to fresh-cut pieces during preparation. Texture and color of the fresh-cut pieces prepared from the VSV treated whole melons were similar to that of the control. The results of this study indicate that the use of the VSV process to reduce the population of spoilage microflora on whole cantaloupe surface and subsequent transfer to fresh-cut pieces will enhance the microbial quality of the fresh-cut product.