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Effect of the Use of a Neutralizing Step after Antimicrobial Application on Microbial Counts during Challenge Studies for Orange Disinfection

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The effects of using a neutralizer after applying antimicrobial treatments and the effect of time lapse between treatment application and subsequent recovery and enumeration of Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Salmonella were investigated in Valencia oranges. Inoculated oranges surfaces were washed with distilled water for 15 s and then sprayed with a solution containing 200 mg/liter sodium hypochlorite (pH 6.5) for 15 s; they were then dipped in L-lactic acid (2.0% at 55°C) for 1 min or in distilled water at 80°C for 1 min. Posttreatment, oranges were divided into two groups. In the first group, oranges were dipped in neutralization treatment: 270 ml of buffered peptone water for 2 min for lactic acid–treated oranges, 270 ml of Dey-Engley broth for 2 min for chlorine-treated oranges, or 3.7 liters of tap water (25°C) for 10 s for hot water–treated oranges. The second group of treated oranges was not subjected to any neutralizer. All oranges then were kept at room temperature (average 26.2°C) and sampled at 0, 7.5, and 15 min for enumeration of surviving Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7. The orange surface (30 cm2) was excised for pathogen enumeration. The presence of free chlorine and changes in pH and temperature on the orange surface were determined in uninoculated, treated oranges. Free chlorine was detected on oranges after treatment; the change in temperature of orange surfaces was greater during treatment with hot water than with lactic acid. Nevertheless, pathogen enumeration did not show any impact of neutralizer use on the residual activity of antimicrobials or any impact of the time elapsed between antimicrobial treatment and recovery of bacterial pathogens from inoculated oranges (P ≥ 0.05). The results of this study indicate that the lack of a neutralizing step before enumeration of pathogens is not likely to affect the accuracy of results during challenge studies to test pathogen reduction strategies on oranges.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Departamento de Farmacobiología, Universidad de Guadalajara, Guadalajara, Jalisco 44430, México 2: Department of Animal Science, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843-2471, USA 3: Department of Animal Science, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843-2471, USA;, Email:

Publication date: February 1, 2013

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    The Journal of Food Protection (JFP) 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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