Individual and Combined Application of Dry Heat with High Hydrostatic Pressure to Inactivate Salmonella and Escherichia Coli O157

Individual and combined application of dry heat with high hydrostatic pressure to inactivate Salmonella and Escherichia coli O157:H7 on alfalfa seeds

Food Microbiology

Hudaa Neetoo and Haiqiang Chen

Alfalfa sprouts are recurrently implicated in outbreaks of food-borne illnesses as a result of contamination with Salmonella or Escherichia coli O157:H7. In the majority of these outbreaks, the seeds themselves have been shown to be the most likely source of contamination. The aims of this study were to comparatively assess the efficacy of dry heat treatments alone or in conjunction with high hydrostatic pressure (HHP) to eliminate a ˜5 log CFU/g load of Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7 on alfalfa seeds. Dry heat treatments at mild temperatures of 55 and 60°C achieved ≤ 1.6 and 2.2 log CFU/g reduction in the population of Salmonella spp. after a 10-d treatment, respectively. However, subjecting alfalfa seeds to more aggressive temperatures of 65°C for 10 days or 70°C for 24 h eliminated a ˜ 5 log population of Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7. We subsequently showed that the sequential application of dry heating followed by HHP could substantially reduce the dry heating exposure time while achieving equivalent decontamination results. Dry heating at 55, 60, 65 and 70°C for 96, 24, 12 and 6 h, respectively followed by a pressure treatment of 600 MPa for 2 min at 35°C were able to eliminate a ˜ 5 log CFU/g initial population of both pathogens. Finally, we evaluated the impact of selected treatments on the seed germination percentages and yield ratios and showed that dry heating at 65°C for 10 days did not bring about any considerable decrease in the germination percentage. However, the sprout yield of treated alfalfa seeds was reduced by 21%. Dry heating at 60 and 65°C for 24 and 12 h respectively followed by the pressure treatment of 600 MPa for 2 min at 35°C did not significantly (P > 0.05) affect the germination percentage of alfalfa seeds although a reduction in the sprouting yield was observed.