Efficacy of Sanitizers To Inactivate Escherichia coli O157:H7 on Fresh-Cut Carrot Shreds under Simulated Process Water Conditions
Chlorine is widely used as a sanitizer to maintain the microbial quality and safety of fresh-cut produce; however, chlorine treatment lacks efficacy on pathogen reduction, especially when the fresh-cut processing water contains heavy organic loads. A more efficacious sanitizer that can tolerate the commercial processing conditions is needed to maintain microbial safety of fresh-cut produce. This study evaluated the efficacy of Escherichia coli O157:H7 reduction on fresh-cut carrots using new and traditional sanitizers with tap water and fresh-cut processing water scenarios. Fresh-cut carrot shreds inoculated with E. coli O157:H7 were washed in sanitizer solutions including 200 ppm chlorine, citric acid–based sanitizer (Pro-San), 80 ppm peroxyacetic acid-based sanitizer (Tsunami 100), and 1,000 ppm acidified sodium chlorite (SANOVA) prepared in fresh tap water or simulated processing water with a chemical oxygen demand level of approximately 3,500 mg/liter. Samples were packaged and stored at 5°C. Microbial analyses performed at days 0, 7, and 14 indicate that the organic load in the process water significantly affected the efficacy of chlorine on pathogen removal and was especially evident on samples tested during storage. Acidified sodium chlorite provided a strong pathogen reduction even under process water conditions with up to a 5.25-log reduction when compared with the no-wash control. E. coli O157:H7 was not recovered on acidified sodium chlorite–treated samples during the entire 14 days of storage, even following an enrichment step. These results suggest that acidified sodium chlorite holds considerable promise as an alternative sanitizer of fresh-cut produce.