Concerns about undesirable by-products from chlorine sanitation of fresh produce and the limited efficacy with the presence of organic matter, have led to studies on alternative washing solutions. The aim of this study was to evaluate the antibacterial activities of acidified sodium benzoate (NaB) solutions against Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella enterica and Listeria monocytogenes in growth medium and on cherry tomatoes. Experimentally, the minimum inhibitory concentrations (MICs) and minimum bactericidal concentrations (MBCs, >3 Log reduction) of NaB against E. coli O157:H7 ATCC 43895, S. Enteritidis, and L. monocytogenes Scott A were determined at pH 7.0-4.0 using micro-broth dilution method and agar plating method, respectively. The reduction of the three bacteria in tryptic soy broth (TSB) by 500 and 1000 ppm NaB at pH 2.0, 2.5 and 3.0 for 30 min at 21 °C was compared. Residual bacterial cocktails inoculated on cherry tomatoes were determined after soaking in 3000 ppm NaB solution adjusted to pH 2.0 for 3 min at 21 °C. Results showed that the MBC of NaB reduced from >10,000 ppm at pH 7.0 to 1000 ppm at pH 4.0 and was identical for the three bacteria. The log reduction of bacteria in TSB indicated that 1000 ppm NaB at pH 2.0 was the most effective in killing the three pathogens. The respective reduction of E. coli O157:H7 and S. enterica cocktails inoculated on cherry tomatoes immersed in 3000 ppm NaB (pH 2.0) at 21 °C for 3 min was 4.99 ± 0.57 and 4.08 ± 0.65 log CFU/g, which was significantly higher (p < 0.05) than the treatments of 200 ppm free chlorine at pH 6.5. Conversely, the reduction of L. monocytogenes on tomatoes by 3000 ppm NaB (4.88 ± 0.73 log CFU/g) was similar (p > 0.05) to 200 ppm chlorine. Furthermore, the reduction of bacterial cocktails on tomatoes by 3000 ppm NaB at pH 2.0 was not affected after adding 1% tomato puree, and bacteria were not detected in NaB washing solutions with and without 1% tomato puree and on following un-inoculated tomatoes. This study showed that acidified NaB solution may be used as an alternative post-harvest wash of produce.
Keywords: Acidified sodium benzoate solution; Cherry tomato; Chlorine; Cross-contamination; Organic matter; Pathogens; Tryptic soy broth.
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