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A Comparative Study Assaying Commonly Used Sanitizers for Antimicrobial Activity against Indicator Bacteria and a Salmonella Typhimurium Strain on Fresh Produce

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With increased concerns over failures in vegetable and fruit sanitation, evaluating the efficacy of widely approved chemicals is ever more important. The purpose of this study was to determine whether sanitation treatments are equally effective against indicator bacteria and human enteric pathogens on cucumber and parsley. We provide here an experimental overview on the efficacy of common sanitation methods, which are based on peracetic acid–hydrogen peroxide, sodium dichloroisocyanurate, and the quaternary ammonium compound didecyldimethylammonium chloride. The sanitizers were tested for their activity against natural populations of total aerobic microorganisms, enterococci, and coliforms, and against the enteric pathogen Salmonella Typhimurium ATCC 14028 (which was added artificially). Results revealed that compared with washing parsley and cucumbers with water, treatments with all three sanitizers were not effective, resulting in a maximal reduction of only 0.7 log CFU of Salmonella Typhimurium. These sanitizers were also not effective in removal of natural bacteria from parsley (maximal reduction was 0.7 log CFU). Sanitation of cucumber was more successful; peracetic acid showed the most effective result, with a reduction of 2.7 log in aerobic microorganisms compared with cucumbers washed with water. Still, removal of natural bacteria from cucumbers proved more efficient than the removal of Salmonella Typhimurium. This may create a debate about the necessity of the sanitation and its contribution to safety, because sanitation of some contaminated vegetables may result in an increased likelihood of foods that, although they are given good hygienic ratings due to low microbial counts, harbor pathogens.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Engineering, Technion–Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa 32000, Israel 2: Israel Defense Force, Medical Corps, Tel Aviv, Israel 3: Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Engineering, Technion–Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa 32000, Israel;, Email: simay@tx.technion.ac.il

Publication date: November 1, 2009

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    First published in 1937, the Journal of Food Protection®, is a refereed monthly publication. Each issue contains scientific research and authoritative review articles reporting on a variety of topics in food science pertaining to food safety and quality. The Journal is internationally recognized as the leading publication in the field of food microbiology with a readership exceeding 11,000 scientists from 70 countries. The Journal of Food Protection® is indexed in Index Medicus, Current Contents, BIOSIS, PubMed, Medline, and many others.

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