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J Food Prot. 2013 May;76(5):770-8. doi: 10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-12-541.

Efficacy of sanitizers in reducing Salmonella on pecan nutmeats during cracking and shelling.

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Center for Food Safety and Department of Food Science and Technology University of Georgia, 1109 Experiment Street, Griffin, Georgia 30223-1797, USA.


Studies were done to evaluate the efficacy of chlorine (200 to 1,000 μg/ml), lactic acid (0.5 to 2%), levulinic acid (0.5 to 2%), sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS, 0.05%), lactic acid plus SDS, levulinic acid plus SDS, and a mixed peroxyacid sanitizer (Tsunami 200, 40 and 80 μg/ml) in killing Salmonella on or in immersion- and on surface-inoculated pecan nutmeats (U.S. Department of Agriculture medium pieces and mammoth halves). The addition of SDS to treatment solutions containing lactic acid or levulinic acid resulted in generally higher reductions of Salmonella, but differences in these reductions were not always significant. Lactic and levulinic acids (2%) containing SDS (0.05%) were equivalent in killing Salmonella on immersion-inoculated nutmeats. Tsunami 200 (40 μg/ml) was less lethal or equivalent to 1 or 2% lactic and levulinic acids, with or without 0.05% SDS. Reductions did not exceed 1.1 log CFU/g of immersion-inoculated pieces and halves, regardless of sanitizer concentration or treatment time (up to 20 min). Reductions on surface-inoculated pieces and halves were 0.7 to 2.6 log CFU/g and 1.2 to 3.0 log CFU/g, respectively. Treatment with 2% lactic acid plus SDS (0.05%) and Tsunami (80 μg/ml) was most effective in killing Salmonella on surface-inoculated pieces; treatment of halves with chlorine (1,000 μg/ml) or lactic acid (1 or 2%), with or without SDS, was most efficacious. Exposure of immersion-inoculated pecan pieces to chlorine (200 μg/ml), lactic acid (2%) and levulinic acid (2%) with or without SDS, and Tsunami (80 μg/ml) during intermittent vacuum (18 ± 2 mbar) and ambient atmospheric pressure treatments for up to 20 min reduced Salmonella by only 0.1 to 1.0 log CFU/g. These studies emphasize the importance of preventing contamination of pecan nutmeats with Salmonella. Once nuts are contaminated, the lethality of sanitizers tested in this study is minimal.

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