Effect of Hot Water Surface Pasteurization of Whole Fruit on Shelf Life and Quality of Fresh-Cut Cantaloupe
Cantaloupes are associated with recent outbreaks of foodborne illnesses and recalls. Therefore, new approaches are needed for sanitization of whole and cut fruit. In the present study, whole cantaloupes were submerged into water in the following 3 conditions: 10 °C water for 20 min (control), 20 ppm chlorine at 10 °C for 20 min, and 76 °C water for 3 min. Populations of microflora were measured on the rinds of the whole cantaloupes. Quality and microbial populations of fresh-cut cantaloupes prepared from whole fruit were analyzed after 1, 6, 8, 10, 13, 16, and 20 d of storage at 4 °C. The hot water significantly reduced both total plate count (TPC) and yeast and mold count on rind of whole fruits while chlorine or cold water wash did not result in a significant reduction of microbial population. Fresh-cut pieces prepared from hot water-treated cantaloupes had lower TPC than the other 2 treatments in the later storage periods (days 13 to 20) in 2 of 3 trials. The hot water treatment of whole fruits was inconsistent in reducing yeast and mold count of fresh-cut pieces. Soluble solids content, ascorbic acid content, fluid loss, and aroma and appearance scores were not consistently affected by either hot water or chlorine treatment. Our results suggested that hot water pasteurization of whole cantaloupes frequently resulted in lower TPCs of fresh-cut fruit during storage and did not negatively affect quality of fresh-cut cantaloupes.