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Decontaminate E. coli O157:H7 on spinach and blueberries using gaseous chlorine dioxide.

Scientists in Maine have developed a simple gaseous chlorine dioxide (ClO2) sachet technique that they used to disinfect spinach and blueberries. They've determined that gaseous ClO2 could be an effective disinfectant against E. coli O157:H7 on spinach and blueberries. Their approach can easily be incorporated into existing processes, and offers an advantage to producers who want to preserve the appearance of their sanitized produce.

In experiments, gaseous ClO2 was generated by the researchers when they combined an equal amount of impregnates, sodium chloride and activating acids--slow-and fast-release materials--in a small sachet. After the materials were activated, the sachet was placed in a sealable bag containing E. coli O157:H7-inoculated spinach or blueberries.

A slow release approach was used for the spinach. A relatively low constant concentration of ClO2 gas was released during seven days of storage: 2.7 mg of ClO2. A fast release technique, consisting of a short treatment time but high ClO2 concentrations, was used on the blueberries. The investigators evaluated the different treatments using 1 g and 3 g of materials for 5 hours and 10 hours to generate 10 mg, 11.5 mg, 30 mg and 34.5 mg of ClO2.

The slow release method effectively decontaminated E. coli O157:H7 on spinach, yielding a 3.4-log CFU per g reduction. The low concentration of ClO2 over seven days did not affect the visual quality of spinach leaves. For blueberries, the fast release approach achieved a 5.86-log CFU per g reduction using a 3-g 5-hour treatment. A 5.41-log CFU per g reduction was also achieved using a 1-g 10-hour treatment. Gaseous ClO2 did not affect the overall visual quality of blueberries.

Further information. Vivian Wu, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, 5735 Hitchner Hall, Room 106, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469; phone: 207-581-3101; fax: 207-581-1636; email:

With an increase in the consumption of fresh vegetables and fruits has come a greater frequency of foodborne illnesses. It's essential to prevent microbial contamination and guarantee the production of safe products.
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Publication:Microbial Update International
Date:Dec 1, 2010
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