Heat Treatments to Enhance the Safety of Mung Bean Seeds

Research Note: Heat Treatments To Enhance the Safety of Mung Bean Seeds

Journal of Food Protection, Vol. 67, No. 6, 2004, Pages 1257-1260

Haijing Hu,John J. Churey and Randy Worobo *

Department of Food Science and Technology, New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, Cornell University,

Geneva, New York 14456-0462, USA

MS 03-399: Received 10 September 2003/Accepted 25 January 2004


Salmonella enterica serovars and Escherichia coli O157:H7 have been associated with contaminated seed sprout outbreaks.  The majority of these outbreaks have been traced to sprout seeds contaminated with low levels of pathogens. E. coli O157:H7 strains can grow an average of 2.3 log CFU/g over 2 days during seed germination, and Salmonella can achieve an average growth of 3.7 log CFU/g. Therefore, it is important to find an effective method to reduce possible pathogenic bacterial populations on the seeds prior to sprouting. Our objective was to assess the effectiveness of various dry heat treatments on reducing E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella populations on mung beans intended for sprout production and to determine the effect of these treatments on seed germination.  Mung beans were inoculated with five-strain cocktails of E. coli O157:H7 and of Salmonella serovars harboring the green fluorescent protein gene and then air dried overnight. Heat treatments were performed by incubating the seeds at 55C for various periods of time. Heat-treated seeds were then assessed for the efficacy of the heat treatment and the effects of heat treatment on germination rates. After inoculation and drying, 6 log CFU/g E. coli O157:H7 and 4 log CFU/gSalmonella were detected on the seeds. Following heat treatment, pathogenic bacterial populations on the seeds were below detectable levels (<1 log CFU/g), but the germination rate of the seed was not affected. Thus, the risk of contamination and the presence of pathogens in the finished sprouts were greatly reduced via the seed heat treatment process.