Submitted to: International Journal of Food Microbiology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/2/2016
Publication Date: 5/14/2016
Citation: Ukuku, D.O., Geveke, D.J., Chau, L.I., Niemira, B.A. 2016. Microbial safety and overall quality of cantaloupe fresh-cut pieces prepared from whole fruit after wet steam treatment. International Journal of Food Microbiology. doi: 10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2016.05.019.
Technical Abstract: Fresh-cut cantaloupes have been associated with outbreaks of Salmonellosis. Minimally processed fresh-cut fruits have a limited shelf life because of deterioration caused by spoilage microflora and physiological processes. The objectives of this study were to use a wet steam process to 1) reduce indigenous spoilage microflora and inoculated populations of Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7 and Listeria monocytogenes on the surface of cantaloupes, and 2) reduce the transfer of spoilage microflora and bacterial pathogens from the cantaloupe surface to the fresh-cut pieces during rind removal and cutting. Whole cantaloupes were treated with a wet steam processing unit, and the treated melons were stored at 5C for 30 days. Bacterial populations in fresh-cut pieces prepared from treated and control samples stored at 5 and 10C for up to 12 days were determined and changes in color (CIE L*, a*, and b*) due to treatments were measured during storage. Presence and growth of aerobic mesophilic bacteria and Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7 and L. monocytogenes were determined in fresh-cut samples prepared from whole melons. There were no visual signs of damage on all treated cantaloupe surfaces immediately after treatments and during storage. All fresh-cut pieces from treated cantaloupes rind surfaces were negative for bacterial pathogens even after an enrichment process. Steam treatment did not significantly change the color of the fresh-cut pieces. Minimal wet steam treatment of cantaloupes rind surfaces designated for fresh-cut preparation will enhance the microbial safety of fresh-cut pieces, by reducing total bacterial populations. This process holds the potential to significantly reduce the incidence of foodborne illness associated with fresh-cut fruits.