An innovative water-assisted UV-C disinfection system to improve the safety of strawberries frozen under cryogenic conditions
Strawberries inoculated with Salmonella enterica, Listeria monocytogenes (108 CFU/mL, 50 μL) and murine norovirus (MNV-1; 106 TCID50/mL, 50 μL), were washed for 2 min in a water-assisted UV-C light tank (WUVC) combined or not with 40 mg/L of peracetic acid (WUVC+PA), and 200 mg/L of free chlorine solution (NaClO) with the UV-C lamps switched off. Moreover, a ‘conventional’ dry UV-C treatment (DUVC) was also tested. After 2-min exposure, washing sanitization with chemical agents gave the highest reduction for both bacteria (ca. ≥ 3.3 log CFU/g) and MNV-1 (≥1.8 log TCID50/mL). DUVC treatment proved to be the least effective technology (≤0.6 log CFU/g for bacteria and 1.5 log TCID50/mL for MNV-1). Regarding wash water, no presence of L. monocytogenes and S. enterica were reported with WUVC+PA and NaClO sanitization. After disinfection, samples were frozen at − 70 ± 2 ◦C in a cryogenic freezing cabinet with liquid nitrogen (N2). For both pathogens, frozen storage after washing substantially enhanced their inactivation in the first 3 days (1.1–4.9 log UFC/g) compared to the reductions obtained the following sampling points (0.0–0.8 log UFC/g). After 90 days, L. monocytogenes and S. enterica were not detected on the samples treated with water-assisted methodologies (WUVC, WUVC+PA and NaClO treatments), whilst MNV-1 was little affected. Further studies are needed to improve norovirus inactivation on frozen strawberries. Industrial relevance: The present work provides relevant information to the frozen food industry regarding a suitable decontamination alternative to chlorine sanitation. Low-dose immersion-assisted UV-C allows inactivation and inhibition of pathogenic microbiota while generates non-toxic byproducts and allows reusing the process water, contributing to the so-called “smart green growth” attended to provide a more innovative and sustainable future for the food industry.
Journal or Serie
Innovative Food Science and Emerging Technologies, 2021, vol. 73, 102756