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J Food Sci. 2007 Sep;72(7):M280-5.

Inactivation kinetics of Escherichia coli by pulsed electron beam.

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West Virginia Univ., Animal and Nutritional Sciences, Morgantown, WV 26506, USA.


A novel and compact low-energy (keV) high-power pulsed electron beam (e-beam) that utilizes a secondary emission electron gun (SEEG) was designed and constructed. Escherichia coli JM 109 at a concentration of 10(6) CFU/mL was spread-plated on Luria-Bertani (LB) medium and subjected to the SEEG e-beam. The e-beam was administered as 1 or 5 pulses. The duration of a single pulse was constant at 5 micros, e-beam current density was constant at 25 mA/cm2, and e-beam energy varied between 60 and 82.5 keV. Following treatment with the SEEG e-beam, survivors of the irradiated E. coli samples were enumerated by a standard 10-fold dilution and spread-plated. The survivor curves were plotted on logarithmic scale as a function of e-beam dose. The D10-values were calculated as a negative reciprocal of the slope of the survivor curves. The D10-values for E. coli inactivated with 1- and 5-pulse SEEG e-beam were 0.0026 and 0.0217 Gy, respectively. These D10-values were considerably lower than published D10-values for E. coli inactivated with conventional high-energy continuous e-beam, likely due to shorter exposure time (t), greater current density (J), and a pulse mode of the SEEG e-beam. The SEEG e-beam showed promising results for microbial inactivation in a nonthermal manner; however, due to low energy of the SEEG e-beam, current applications are limited to surface decontamination. The SEEG e-beam may be an efficient processing step for surface inactivation of food-borne pathogens on ready-to-eat products, including fresh and leafy vegetables.

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