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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania » Eastern Regional Research Center » Food Safety and Intervention Technologies Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #240588

Title: Use of chemical sanitizers to reduce microbial populations and maintain quality of whole and fresh-cut cantaloupe

item Fan, Xuetong
item Annous, Bassam
item Keskinen, Lindsey
item Mattheis, James

Submitted to: Journal of Food Protection
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/24/2009
Publication Date: 10/1/2009
Citation: Fan, X., Annous, B.A., Keskinen, L.A., Mattheis, J.P. 2009. Use of chemical sanitizers to reduce microbial populations and maintain quality of whole and fresh-cut cantaloupe. Journal of Food Protection. 72(12):2453-2460.

Interpretive Summary: In recent years, the number of outbreaks of food borne illnesses associated with fresh fruits and vegetables has been increasing in the U.S. Novel chemical sanitizers with greater antimicrobial efficacy are needed to improve the safety of both whole and cut fresh fruits and vegetables. This study was conducted to investigate the effects of surface sanitization of whole cantaloupes with several acidified compounds in comparison with chlorine on Salmonella and microbial population and quality of cantaloupe cubes prepared from the whole fruit. The results suggest that sanitization of whole cantaloupe with a couple of acidified sanitizers were able to reduce natural microbial population and maintained quality of cut cantaloupes. However, none of the treatments guaranteed pathogen-free fresh-cut cantaloupes if the whole cantaloupes were heavily contaminated with Salmonella. The research demonstrated limitation of chemical sanitizers in enhancing microbial safety without damaging quality of fresh-cut cantaloupes. The information will be useful for produce industry in implementing enhanced washing and sanitizing treatments to enhance the safety of melons.

Technical Abstract: Whole cantaloupes either not inoculated or inoculated with Salmonella Poona were submerged in water, 100 ppm chlorine, acidified calcium sulfate (ACS: 1.2% Safe2O ACS50), 1000 ppm acidified sodium chlorite (Sanova), 80 ppm peroxyacetic acid (Tsunami), and combination of ACS and Tsunami for 10 min. While only Sanova and the combination of ACS and Tsunami significantly reduced aerobic plate count (APC) on the surface of whole cantaloupe compared to water wash, all treatments reduced yeast and mold count on the whole cantaloupe. However, none of the treatments on whole cantaloupes consistently reduced yeast and mold count for the fresh-cut samples. The APC on the fresh-cut cantaloupe was consistently reduced by sanitization of whole fruit with Sanova, ACS, and combination of ACS and Tsunami. The low bacterial population on the fresh-cut fruit was maintained during the 14-d storage at 4 C. All treatments had a limited effect on the population of Salmonella inoculated on the surface of the whole cantaloupes. None of the treatments guaranteed a Salmonella-free fresh-cut product even though Salmonella population was more frequently non-detectable in fresh-cut fruits prepared from cantaloupe treated by Sanova. Color, texture, soluble solids content, pH, ascorbic acid and drip loss of cut cantaloupes were not consistently affected by any of the whole fruit treatments. Samples treated with Tsunami deteriorated in appearance and aroma after 7 and 14 days of storage. Overall, ACS was not as effective as Sanova in reducing population of Salmonella without detrimental effects on quality of fresh-cut fruit cantaloupes.