Luo Y, Nou X, Millner P, Zhou B, Shen C, Yang Y, Wu Y, Wang Q, Feng H, Shelton D
A pilot plant scale evaluation of a new process aid for enhancing chlorine efficacy against pathogen survival and cross-contamination during produce wash.
International journal of food microbiology. 2012 Jul 16;
Developing food safety intervention technology that can be readily adopted by the industry often requires test conditions that match as closely as possible to those of commercial food processing operations; yet biosafety risks inherent in pathogen studies constrain most experiments to laboratory settings. In this study, we report the first semi-commercial pilot-scale evaluation of a new process aid, T128, for its impact on enhancing the antimicrobial efficacy of chlorinated wash water against pathogen survival and cross-contamination. A non-pathogenic, BSL-1, strain of Escherichia coli O157:H7 was inoculated onto freshly harvested baby spinach leaves and washed with large amounts of freshly cut un-inoculated iceberg lettuce shreds in wash water with free chlorine periodically replenished, in the presence or absence of T128. Changes in water quality and pathogen survival and cross-contamination were monitored at every 2min intervals for up to 36min for each treatment during the wash operation. Results indicated that the use of T128 did not significantly (P>0.05) influence the rate of wash water deterioration, nor the pathogen populations remaining on the inoculated spinach leaves. However, in the absence of T128 (control), survival of E. coli O157:H7 in wash water and cross-contamination of un-inoculated lettuce frequently occurred when free chlorine in solution dropped below 1mg/l during the wash process. In contrast, the use of T128 significantly reduced the occurrence of E. coli O157:H7 surviving in wash water and of cross-contamination to un-inoculated shredded iceberg lettuce under the same operational conditions, suggesting that the application of T128 in a chlorine-based fresh produce sanitization system could increase the safety margin of process control on fresh-cut operations.