Atmospheric Plasma Inactivation of Foodborne Pathogens on Fresh Produce Surfaces

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A study was conducted to determine the effect of one atmosphere uniform glow discharge plasma (OAUGDP) on inactivation of Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella, and Listeria monocytogenes on apples, cantaloupe, and lettuce, respectively. A five-strain mixture of cultured test organisms was washed, suspended in phosphate buffer, and spot inoculated onto produce (7 log CFU per sample). Samples were exposed inside a chamber affixed to the OAUGDP blower unit operated at a power of 9 kV and frequency of 6 kHz. This configuration allows the sample to be placed outside of the plasma generation unit while allowing airflow to carry the antimicrobial active species, including ozone and nitric oxide, onto the food sample. Cantaloupe and lettuce samples were exposed for 1, 3, and 5 min, while apple samples were exposed for 30 s, 1 min, and 2 min. After exposure, samples were pummeled in 0.1% peptone water–2% Tween 80, diluted, and plated in duplicate onto selective media and tryptic soy agar and incubated as follows: E. coli O157:H7 (modified eosin methylene blue) and Salmonella (xylose lysine tergitol-4) for 48 h at 37°C, and L. monocytogenes (modified Oxford medium) at 48 h for 32°C. E. coli O157: H7 populations were reduced by >1 log after 30-s and 1-min exposures and >2 log after a >2-min exposure. Salmonella populations were reduced by >2 log after 1 min. Three- and 5-min exposure times resulted in >3-log reduction. L. monocytogenes populations were reduced by 1 log after 1 min of exposure. Three- and 5-min exposure times resulted in >3- and >5-log reductions, respectively. This process has the capability of serving as a novel, nonthermal processing technology to be used for reducing microbial populations on produce surfaces.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Food Science and Technology, University of Tennessee, 2605 River Drive, Knoxville, Tennessee 37996-4591 2: Atmospheric Glow Technologies, Incorporated, 924 Corridor Park Boulevard, Knoxville, Tennessee 37932-3723, USA 3: Department of Food Science and Technology, University of Tennessee, 2605 River Drive, Knoxville, Tennessee 37996-4591;, Tel: 865-974-7247, Fax: 865-974-2750, Email:

Publication date: October 1, 2007

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