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Efficacy of Chemical Treatments in Eliminating Salmonella and Escherichia coli O157:H7 on Scarified and Polished Alfalfa Seeds

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Alfalfa seeds are sometimes subjected to a scarification treatment to enhance water uptake, which results in more rapid and uniform germination during sprout production. It has been hypothesized that this mechanical abrasion treatment diminishes the efficacy of chemical treatments used to kill or remove pathogenic bacteria from seeds. A study was done to compare the effectiveness of chlorine (20,000 ppm), H2O2 (8%), Ca(OH)2 (1%), Ca(OH)2 (1%) plus Tween 80 (1%), and Ca(OH)2 (1%) plus Span 20 (1%) treatments in killing Salmonella and Escherichia coli O157:H7 inoculated onto control, scarified, and polished alfalfa seeds obtained from two suppliers. The influence of the presence of organic material in the inoculum carrier on the efficacy of sanitizers was investigated. Overall, treatment with 1% Ca(OH)2 was the most effective in reducing populations of the pathogens. Reduction in populations of pathogens on seeds obtained from supplier 1 indicate that chemical treatments are less efficacious in eliminating the pathogens on scarified seeds compared to control seeds. However, the effectiveness of chemical treatment in removing Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7 from seeds obtained from supplier 2 was not markedly affected by scarification or polishing. The presence of organic material in the inoculum carrier did not have a marked influence on the efficacy of chemicals in reducing populations of test pathogens. Additional lots of control, scarified, and polished alfalfa seeds of additional varieties need to be tested before conclusions can be drawn concerning the impact of mechanical abrasion on the efficacy of chemical treatment in removing or killing Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7.


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Center for Food Safety and Department of Food Science and Technology, University of Georgia, 1109 Experiment Street, Griffin, Georgia 30223-1797, USA

Publication date: October 1, 2001

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