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Mold and Aflatoxin Reduction by Gamma Radiation of Packed Hot Peppers and Their Evolution during Storage

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The effect of gamma radiation on moisture content, total mold counts, Aspergillus counts, and aflatoxins of three hot pepper hybrids (Sky Red, Maha, and Wonder King) was investigated. Whole dried peppers packed in polyethylene bags were gamma irradiated at 0 (control), 2, 4, and 6 kGy and stored at 25°C for 90 days. Gamma radiation proved to be effective in reducing total mold and Aspergillus counts in a dose-dependent relationship. Total mold counts in irradiated peppers immediately after treatments were significantly lowered compared with those in nonirradiated samples, achieving 90 and 99% reduction at 2- and 4-kGy doses, respectively. Aspergillus counts were significantly reduced, by 93 and 97%, immediately after irradiation at doses of 2 and 4 kGy, respectively. A radiation dose of 6 kGy completely eliminated the population of total molds and Aspergillus fungi. The evolution of total molds in control and irradiated samples indicated no further fungal proliferation during 3 months of storage at 25°C. Aflatoxin levels were slightly affected by radiation doses of 2 and 4 kGy and showed a nonsignificant reduction of 6% at the highest radiation dose of 6 kGy. The distinct effectiveness of gamma radiation in molds and aflatoxins can be explained by the target theory of food irradiation, which states that the likelihood of a microorganism or a molecule being inactivated by gamma rays increases as its size increases.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Institute of Horticultural Sciences, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad-38040, Pakistan., Email: 2: Institute of Horticultural Sciences, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad-38040, Pakistan 3: Nuclear Institute for Agriculture and Biology (NIAB), Jhang Road, Faisalabad-38000, Pakistan 4: Veterinary Faculty, University of Zaragoza, 50013 Zaragoza, Spain

Publication date: August 1, 2012

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