Comparison of Chlorine and a Prototype Produce Wash Product for Effectiveness in Killing Salmonella and Escherichia Coli O157:H7 on Alfalfa Seeds

J Food Prot. 2001 Feb;64(2):152-8. doi: 10.4315/0362-028x-64.2.152.


Outbreaks of Salmonella and Escherichia coli O157:H7 infections associated with alfalfa and other seed sprouts have occurred with increased frequency in recent years. This study was undertaken to determine the efficacy of a liquid prototype produce wash product (Fit), compared with water and chlorinated water, in killing Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7 inoculated onto alfalfa seeds. We investigated the efficacy of treatments as influenced by seeds from two different lots obtained from two seeds suppliers and by two methods of inoculation. The efficacy of treatments was influenced by differences in seed lots and amount of organic material in the inoculum. Significant (alpha = 0.05) reductions in Salmonella populations on seeds treated with 20,000 ppm of chlorine or Fit for 30 min ranged from 2.3 to 2.5 log10 CFU/g and 1.7 to 2.3 log10 CFU/g, respectively. Reductions (alpha = 0.05) in E. coli O157:H7 ranged from 2.0 to 2.1 log10 CFU/g and 1.7 to more than 5.4 log10 CFU/g of seeds treated, respectively, with 20,000 ppm of chlorine or Fit. Compared with treatment with 200 ppm of chlorine, treatment with either 20,000 ppm of chlorine or Fit resulted in significantly higher reductions in populations of Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7. None of the treatments eliminated these pathogens as evidenced by their detection on enrichment of treated seeds. Considering the human health and environmental hazards associated with the use of 20,000 ppm of chlorine, Fit provides an effective alternative to chlorine as a treatment to significantly reduce bacterial pathogens that have been associated with alfalfa seeds.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chlorine / pharmacokinetics
  • Chlorine / pharmacology*
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Disinfectants / pharmacokinetics
  • Disinfectants / pharmacology*
  • Disinfection / methods
  • Escherichia coli O157 / drug effects*
  • Escherichia coli O157 / growth & development
  • Medicago sativa / microbiology*
  • Salmonella / drug effects*
  • Salmonella / growth & development
  • Seeds / microbiology*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Disinfectants
  • Chlorine