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Inactivation of Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Salmonella on Mung Beans, Alfalfa, and Other Seed Types Destined for Sprout Production by Using an Oxychloro-Based Sanitizer

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The efficacy of a stabilized oxychloro-based food grade sanitizer to decontaminate seeds destined for sprout production has been evaluated. By using mung bean seeds as a model system, it was demonstrated that the sanitizer could be used to inactivate a five-strain cocktail of Escherichia coli O157:H7 or Salmonella introduced onto beans at 103 to 104 CFU/g. Salmonella was more tolerant to stabilized oxychloro than was E. coli O157:H7, with sanitizer levels of >150 and >50 ppm, respectively, being required to ensure pathogen-free sprouts. The decontamination efficacy was also found to be dependent on treatment time (>8 h optimal) and the seed-to-sanitizer ratio (>1:4 optimal). Stabilized oxychloro treatment did not exhibit phytotoxic effects, as germination and sprout yields were not significantly (P > 0.05) different as compared with untreated controls. Although human pathogens could be effectively eliminated from mung beans, the aerobic plate count of native microflora on sprouts grown from treated seed was not significantly (P > 0.05) different from the controls. The diversity of microbial populations (determined through 16S rRNA denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis analysis) associated with bean sprouts was not significantly affected by the sanitizer treatment. However, it was noted that Klebsiella and Herbasprillum (both common plant endophytes) were absent in sprouts derived from decontaminated seed but were present in control sprouts. When a further range of seed types was evaluated, it was found that alfalfa, cress, flax, and soybean could be decontaminated with the stabilized oxychloro sanitizer. However, the decontamination efficacy with other seed types was less consistent. It appears that the rate of seed germination and putative activity of sanitizer sequestering system(s), in addition to other factors, may limit the efficacy of the decontamination method.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Food Science, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada N1G 2W1, UK 2: Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada, 93 Stone Road West, Guelph, Ontario, Canada N1G 5C9, UK 3: Division of Food Sciences, School of Biosciences, University of Nottingham, Sutton Bonington Campus, Loughborough, Leicestershire LE12 5RD, UK

Publication date: July 1, 2006

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