Inactivation of Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella enteritidis and Listeria monocytogenes on the surface of tomatoes by neutral electrolyzed water

AIMS:

To determine the efficacy of neutral electrolyzed water (NEW) in killing Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella enteritidis and Listeria monocytogenes, as well as nonpathogenic E. coli, on the surface of tomatoes, and to evaluate the effect of rinsing with NEW on the organoleptic characteristics of the tomatoes.

METHODS AND RESULTS:

The bactericidal activity of NEW, containing 444 or 89 mg l(-1) of active chlorine, was evaluated over pure cultures (8.5 log CFU ml(-1)) of the above-mentioned strains. All of them were reduced by more than 6 log CFU ml(-1) within 5 min of exposure to NEW. Fresh tomatoes were surface-inoculated with the same strains, and rinsed in NEW (89 mg l(-1) of active chlorine) or in deionized sterile water (control), for 30 or 60 s. In the NEW treatments, independent of the strain and of the treatment time, an initial surface population of about 5 log CFU sq.cm(-1) was reduced to <1 log CFU sq.cm(-1), and no cells were detected in the washing solution by plating procedure. A sensory evaluation was conducted to ascertain possible alterations in organoleptic qualities, yielding no significant differences with regard to untreated tomatoes.

SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPACT OF THE STUDY:

Rinsing in NEW reveals as an effective method to control the presence of E. coli O157:H7, S. enteritidis and L. monocytogenes on the surface of fresh tomatoes, without affecting their organoleptic characteristics. This indicates its potential application for the decontamination of fresh produce surfaces.

Editor's note: Ionized acidic water from a Chanson water ionizer is an all-natural chemical-free sterlizating agent that can be used on produce. We recommend a spray or quick dip in the ionized acidic water and then a ten minute soak in ionized alkaline water shortly before consuming to revive the produce to its natural state.

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