Contrary to what Australians are being told, cantaloupe – er, rockmelon – is a known source of foodborne illness and many scientists have investigated the many ways nasty bacteria get on or in the melon; along with potential treatments.
In this paper, researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture report surface structure and biochemical characteristics of bacteria and produce play a major role in how and where bacteria attach, complicating decontamination treatments.
Whole cantaloupe rind surfaces were inoculated with Salmonella, Escherichia coli O157:H7, and Listeria monocytogenes at 107 CFU/ml. Average population size of Salmonella, Escherichia coli O157:H7, and L. monocytogenes recovered after surface inoculation was 4.8 ± 0.12, 5.1 ± 0.14, and 3.6 ± 0.13 log CFU/cm2, respectively. Inoculated melons were stored at 5 and 22°C for 7 days before washing treatment interventions. Intervention treatments used were (i) water (H2O) at 22°C, (ii) H2O at 80°C, (iii) 3% hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) at 22°C, and (iv) a combination of 3% H2O2 and H2O at 80°C for 300 s. The strength of pathogen attachment (SR value) at days 0, 3, and 7 of storage was determined, and then the efficacy of the intervention treatments to detach, kill, and reduce transfer of bacteria to fresh-cut pieces during fresh-cut preparation was investigated. Populations of E. coliO157:H7 attached to the rind surface at significantly higher levels (P < 0.05) than Salmonella and L. monocytogenes, but Salmonella exhibited the strongest attachment (SR value) at all days tested. Washing with 3% H2O2 alone led to significant reduction (P < 0.05) of bacteria and caused some changes in bacterial cell morphology. A combination treatment with H2O and 3% H2O2 at 8°C led to an average 4-log reduction of bacterial pathogens, and no bacterial pathogens were detected in fresh-cut pieces prepared from this combination treatment, including enriched fresh-cut samples.
The results of this study indicate that the microbial safety of fresh-cut pieces from treated cantaloupes was improved at day 6 of storage at 5°C and day 3 of storage at 10°C.
Effect of hydrogen peroxide in combination with minimal thermal treatment for reducing bacterial populations on cantaloupe rind surfaces and transfer to fresh cut pieces
Ukuku, Dike O.1; Mukhopadhyay, Sudarsan2; Geveke, David2; Olanya, Modesto2; Niemira, Brendan2
1: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Eastern Regional Research Center, 600 East Mermaid Lane, Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania 19038, USA;, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org 2: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Eastern Regional Research Center, 600 East Mermaid Lane, Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania 19038, USA
Journal of Food Protection, August 2016, Number 8, Pages 1316-1324, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-16-046