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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Use of Ionizing Radiation to Improve Sensory and Microbial Quality of Fresh-Cut Green Onion Leaves

Authors
item Fan, Xuetong
item Niemira, Brendan
item Sokorai, Kimberly

Submitted to: Journal of Food Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: March 28, 2003
Publication Date: March 28, 2003
Citation: FAN, X., NIEMIRA, B.A., SOKORAI, K.J. USE OF IONIZING RADIATION TO IMPROVE SENSORY AND MICROBIAL QUALITY OF FRESH-CUT GREEN ONION LEAVES. JOURNAL OF FOOD SCIENCE. 2003. V. 68. P. 1478-1483.

Interpretive Summary: Green onions are widely used as seasoning in oriental and Mexican foods such as salads, dips, and soups. However, human pathogens and parasites have been found on green onions, and consequently, several recent outbreaks of foodborne illness have been linked to consumption of this vegetable. Ionizing radiation is highly effective for inactivation of pathogens and parasites in many vegetables. However, the effect of ionizing radiation on sensory and microbial quality of green onions is unknown. In this study, minimally processed green onions were exposed to gamma radiation at doses up to 3 kGy and stored at 3 degrees Celsius. Although 2 and 3 kGy radiation completely eliminated microbial population, the treatments resulted in increased cellular membrane damage, loss of aroma, and deteriorated visual quality. Samples treated with 1 kGy had similar or better sensorial quality and a reduced microbial population than the controls throughout the 14 days of storage. Our results suggest that irradiation at a dose of 1 kGy can be used to enhance microbial safety of fresh-cut green onions without loss in quality attributes. Vegetable producers and shippers can use the information to employ irradiation as a means of microbial disinfection and quality improvement for green onions.

Technical Abstract: Fresh-cut green onion leaves that received absorbed gamma radiation doses of 0, 1, 2 and 3 kGy were stored at 3 degrees Celsius for up to 14 day. Although 2 and 3 kGy radiation completely eliminated microflora population, the treatments resulted in increased cellular membrane damage, loss of aroma, and deteriorated visual quality. Samples treated with 1 kGy had similar or better sensorial quality and a reduced microbial population than the controls throughout the 14 day of storage. Our results suggest that irradiation at a dose of 1 kGy can be used to enhance microbial safety of fresh-cut green onions without loss in quality attributes.

Last Modified: 9/2/2014
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