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Int J Food Microbiol. 2010 Mar 31;138(1-2):50-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2010.01.004. Epub 2010 Jan 14.

A combined treatment of UV-light and radio frequency electric field for the inactivation of Escherichia coli K-12 in apple juice.

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Food Safety Intervention Technologies Research Unit, Eastern Regional Research Center, Agricultural Research Service, US Department of Agriculture(1), Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania 19038, USA.


Radio frequency electric fields (RFEF) and UV-light treatments have been reported to inactivate bacteria in liquid foods. However, information on the efficacy of bacterial inactivation by combined treatments of RFEF and UV-light technologies is limited. In this study, we investigated the relationship between cell injury and inactivation of Escherichia coli K-12 in apple juice treated with a combination of RFEF and UV-light. Apple juice purchased from a wholesale distributor was inoculated with E. coli K-12 at 7.8 log CFU/ml, processed with a laboratory scale RFEF unit at 20 kHz, 15 kV/cm for 170 micros at a flow rate of 540 ml/min followed by UV-light treatment (254 nm) for 12s at 25, 30 and 40 degrees C. Treated samples were analyzed for leakage of UV-substances as a function of membrane damage and were plated (0.1 ml) on Sorbitol MacConkey Agar (SMAC) and Trypticase Soy Agar (TSA) plates to determine the viability loss and percent injury. At 40 degrees C, UV-light treatment alone caused 5.8 log reduction of E. coli in apple juice while RFEF caused only 2.8 log reduction. A combination of the two processing treatments did not increase cell injury or leakage of intracellular bacterial UV-substances more than that from the UV-light treatment. Similarly, the viability loss determined was not significantly (P<0.05) different than UV-light treatment alone. However, the UV-substances determined in apple juice treated with RFEF was significantly (P>0.05) different than UV-light treated samples. The results of this study suggest that RFEF treatment causes more injury to the bacterial cells leading to more leakage of intracellular UV-substances than cells treated with UV-light alone. Also, the effect of the two processing treatment combination on bacterial inactivation was not additive.

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