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Efficacy of Washing with a Commercial Flatbed Brush Washer, Using Conventional and Experimental Washing Agents, in Reducing Populations of Escherichia coli on Artificially Inoculated Apples

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Conventional and experimental washing formulations were applied with a commercial flatbed brush washer under conditions representative of commercial practice to determine their efficacy in decontaminating apples inoculated with a nonpathogenic Escherichia coli strain. Golden Delicious apples (18 kg) inoculated with E. coli were mixed with approximately 109 kg of uninoculated Fuji apples (distinctly different in appearance) in a wet dump tank containing 1,325 liters of water at 20°C for 15 min. The combined apples were washed in a flatbed brush washer with the following washing solutions: water at 20°C, water at 50°C, 200 ppm of chlorine (pH 6.4) at 20°C, 8% trisodium phosphate at 20°C, 8% trisodium phosphate at 50°C, 5% hydrogen peroxide at 20°C, 5% hydrogen peroxide at 50°C, 1% APL Kleen 245 at 50°C, and two-stage washing treatments using the combination of 1% APL Kleen 245 at 20 or 50°C followed by 5% hydrogen peroxide at 35 or 50°C. None of the washing treatments tested under the conditions of this experiment significantly reduced the E. coli populations on the inoculated apples or in cider made from these apples, probably as a consequence of the inability of this washing system to inactivate or remove the bacterial cells in inaccessible calyx and stem areas of apples. These results are important because they demonstrate the need for new fruit washing technology that can overcome this limitation. Also, there was no significant cross-contamination of the Fuji apples in the dump tank. Significant cross-contamination of cider, made with uninoculated apples, occurred in the hammer mill and/or the press cloth when these units were not sanitized following a trial with inoculated apples.


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Eastern Regional Research Center, 600 East Mermaid Lane, Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania 19038, USA

Publication date: February 1, 2001

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