Submitted to: Journal of Food Protection
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/10/2018
Publication Date: 3/26/2019
Citation: Gurtler, J., Fan, X., Jin, Z.T., Niemira, B.A. 2019. Effects of antimicrobials on the thermal sensitivity of foodborne pathogens: A review. Journal of Food Protection. 82(4):628-644. https://doi.org/10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-18-441.
Technical Abstract: Consumers, demanding more natural and clean-label food products are driving the food production market toward the use of more organic antimicrobials such as essential oils (EOs). Nevertheless, due to the strong aromatic and flavor properties of EOs, their use is often precluded, or are used at concentrations below the flavor threshold, which are often renders their biocidal activity ineffective. An opportunity exists for low concentrations of antimicrobials to be combined with mild heating (e.g. 42-55 degrees Celsius) for short treatment times to employ the hurdle concept for additive or synergistic effects on foodborne pathogens such as E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella, or L. monocytogenes, Norovirus, as well as these pathogens’ validated surrogate organisms. In some cases, especially with fruit juices, this combination of interventions is described as antimicrobial-assisted pasteurization. EOs used below the organoleptic quality threshold, which otherwise would have little effect on the inactivation of foodborne pathogens, prove antimicrobial when used in conjunction with mild thermal processes. Thermal processes combined with antimicrobials may be used in the processing of liquids, eggs, juices, drinks, and fresh produce. This review highlights research from the literature where antimicrobials and mild heating have been combined to improve the inactivation of populations of foodborne pathogens. Commodities and testing substrates reviewed include buffers and nutrient broths, juices, liquid egg, mangoes, cut lettuce, cut and shredded cabbage, baby spinach leaves, salsa, etc. Opportunities exist for the application of this hurdle technology to a whole array of food products, which could benefit from pathogen reduction or elimination, and prevention of aqueous cross-contamination and/or internalization during the washing of fresh produce.