Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: December 10, 2008
Publication Date: August 1, 2009
Citation: Niemira, B.A., Annous, B.A., Fan, X., Liao, C., Sites, J.E. 2009. Inactivation of Microbial Contaminants in Fresh Produce. In Al-Taher, F., Jackson, L.,DeVries, J., editors. Intentional and Unintentional Food Contaminants. Washington, DC: ACS Press. 12:183-206. Technical Abstract: With the microbial safety of fresh produce of increasing concern, conventional sanitizing treatments need to be supplemented with effective new interventions to inactivate human pathogens. The Produce Safety research project at the US Dept. Agriculture’s Eastern Regional Research Center develops and validates new interventions to improve the safety of fresh and fresh-cut fruits and vegetables. Inoculation with suppressive microbial communities inhibits the growth of Salmonella on vegetable surfaces by up to 99% during the course of storage. Rapid thermal treatments and gaseous chlorine dioxide can achieve reductions of Salmonella on cantaloupe of more than 99.99%. Irradiation can reduce E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes on leafy vegetables and other produce by more than 99.99% while preserving product quality. Chemical and sensory analysis has demonstrated the safety and wholesomeness of irradiated foods. A novel processing technology, cold plasma, has shown promising results, with 99.9% reductions of Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7 on apple surfaces. This chapter will summarize the advances made in these areas, as well as research results on the process of scaling up effective interventions from laboratory scale to pilot plant scale, including the critical process of evaluating the effects of the various interventions on sensory and nutritional quality attributes, yield, physiology, and shelf-life.