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Influence of Refrigerated Storage Time on Efficacy of Irradiation To Reduce Salmonella on Sliced Roma Tomatoes

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Contamination of tomatoes with Salmonella is a recurring food safety concern. Irradiation is a nonthermal intervention that can inactivate pathogens on fresh and minimally processed produce. However, the influence of tomato processing protocols, including time in refrigerated storage and time between slicing and irradiation, has not been determined. Roma tomatoes were sliced and inoculated with a cocktail of Salmonella outbreak strains. The inoculated tomatoes were held in refrigerated storage for various times after inoculation to simulate the potential time delay between packaging and irradiation. Tomatoes were irradiated immediately (0 h) or after 24, 48, or 72 h in storage. The surviving populations were recovered and enumerated. Irradiation effectively reduced Salmonella at all times. The D 10-values (the dose necessary for a 1-log reduction of the pathogen) were not significantly different at each storage time and ranged from 0.382 to 0.473 kGy. These results suggest that the time required for holding of processed Roma tomatoes or shipment to an off-site irradiation service provider will not alter the efficacy of irradiation in a commercial environment.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-10-385

Affiliations: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Food Safety and Intervention Technologies Research Unit, Eastern Regional Research Center, Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania 19038, USA. brendan.niemira@ars.usda.gov

Publication date: June 1, 2011

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