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Food Microbiol. 2014 Jun;40:1-8. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2013 Dec 8.

A novel water-assisted pulsed light processing for decontamination of blueberries.

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Department of Animal and Food Sciences, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716-2150, USA.
Department of Animal and Food Sciences, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716-2150, USA. Electronic address:


Sample heating and shadowing effect have limited the application of pulsed light (PL) technology for decontamination of fresh produce. In this study, a novel setup using water-assisted PL processing was developed to overcome these limitations. Blueberries inoculated with Escherichia coli O157:H7 or Salmonella were either treated with PL directly (dry PL treatment) or immersed in agitated water during the PL treatment (wet PL treatment) for 5-60 s. Although both pathogens were effectively inactivated by the dry PL treatments, the appearance of the blueberries was adversely affected and a maximum temperature of 64.8 °C on the blueberry surface was recorded. On the other hand, the visual appearance of blueberries remained unchanged after wet PL treatments and sample heating was significantly reduced. The wet PL treatments were more effective than chlorine washing on inactivating both pathogens. After a 60-s wet PL treatment, the populations of E. coli O157:H7 inoculated on calyx and skin of blueberries were reduced by 3.0 and >5.8 log CFU/g, respectively. Salmonella on blueberry calyx and skin was reduced by 3.6 and >5.9 log CFU/g, respectively. No viable bacterial cells were recovered from the water used in the wet PL treatments, demonstrating that this setup could prevent the risk of cross-contamination during fresh produce washing. Our results suggest that this new water-assisted PL treatment could be a potential non-chemical alternative (residue free) to chlorine washing since it is both more effective and environmentally friendly than chlorine washing.


Blueberry; Escherichia coli O157:H7; Produce; Pulsed light; Salmonella

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