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Pulsed light decontamination of endive salad and mung bean sprouts and impact on color and respiration activity

: Kramer, Bernd; Wunderlich, Joachim; Muranyi, Peter


Journal of food protection 78 (2015), No.2, pp.340-348
ISSN: 0362-028X
ISSN: 1944-9097
Journal Article
Fraunhofer IVV ()

The objective of this study was the determination of the efficiency of pulsed light (PL) treatments for the decontamination of endive salad and mung bean sprouts, as well as the assessment of quality changes in relation to discoloration and alteration of respiration activity. Produce samples were artificially inoculated with two bacterial test strains Escherichia coli (DSM 498) and Listeria innocua (DSM 20649) and exposed to PL at different energy doses. The inactivation efficiency with regard to the naturally occurring microbiota was also investigated. Besides microbiological investigations, color changes were determined as well as the produce respiration during chilled storage. The results indicated that inactivation of more than 2 log was possible with one flash in the case of fresh-cut salad, while the reduction on mung bean sprouts was limited to approximately 1.6 log with one flash, irrespective if the natural flora or inoculated E. coli or L. innocua were considered. The UV part of the PL proved to be exclusively responsible for the inactivation of microorganisms. Significant lower levels of microbial counts of treated compared with untreated samples were maintained for up to 6 days. In the case of endive salad, a dose-dependent progressive discoloration and increase in respiration was diminished by applying optical bandpass filters, which only slightly affected the inactivation efficiency. In contrast, PL treatments showed a positive effect on color and general appearance of mung bean sprouts, while the respiration was almost unaffected. However, care must be taken with regard to efficiency-limiting matrix effects and impact on food quality. These aspects have to be assessed for each treated product. The integration of PL in industrial food processing plants could be an alternative way to improve the microbial quality of fresh produce, and therefore have a positive impact on public health by reducing the risk of contaminations with pathogenic bacteria.