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Novel approaches for chemical and microbiological shelf life extension of cereal crops

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Economic losses due to post-harvest fungal spoilage and mycotoxin contamination of cereal crops is a frequently encountered issue. Typically, chemical preservatives are used to reduce the initial microbial load and the environmental conditions during storage are controlled to prevent microbial growth. However, in recent years the consumers’ desire for more naturally produced foods containing less chemical preservatives has grown increasingly stronger. This article reviews the latest advances in terms of novel approaches for chemical decontamination, namely application cold atmospheric pressure plasma and electrolyzed water, and their suitability for preservation of stored cereal crops. In addition, the alternative use of bio-preservatives, such as starter cultures or purified antimicrobial compounds, to prevent the growth of spoilage organisms or remove in-field accumulated mycotoxins is evaluated. All treatments assessed here show potential for inhibition of microbial spoilage. However, each method encounters draw-backs, making industrial application difficult. Even under optimized processing conditions, it is unlikely that one single treatment can reduce the natural microbial load sufficiently. It is evident that future research needs to examine the combined application of several treatments to exploit their synergistic properties. This would enable sufficient reduction in the microbial load and ensure microbiological safety of cereal crops during long-term storage.
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Keywords: Cereal grains; bio-preservatives; cold plasma; electrolyzed water; microbial shelf life; mycotoxins

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Food and Nutritional Sciences, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland; 2: School of Food and Nutritional Sciences and APC Microbiome Institute, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland

Publication date: November 30, 2019

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