The decontamination efficacy of neutral electrolyzed water (NEW) was evaluated using shredded cabbages and carrots in both a scalable laboratory system (experiment I) and an actual processing line in a plant (experiment II). In experiment I, the antimicrobial effect of highly concentrated NEW (up to the maximum regulated level: 200. ppm) was tested to determine the appropriate conditions for use in an actual plant test: (1) hypochlorous acid (HClO) concentration (100, 150, and 200. ppm), (2) ratio of sample weight to NEW volume (1:5, 1:10, and 1:20), and (3) treatment time (5, 10, 20, and 30. min), using 2. kg of shredded cabbages and carrots. In experiment II, the feasibility of the NEW treatment was validated on an actual processing line (treatment unit: 20. kg), including cutting, three washing steps (two air bubble washes for 5. min each and 150. ppm NEW for 5. min at ratio of 1:10), rinsing (5. min), and dehydration (5. min). Overall, the microbial reductions tended to increase as the HClO concentration, ratio of sample to NEW, and treatment time increased. The results obtained from experiment I indicated that the maximum conditions (NEW 200. ppm, 1:20, 30. min) achieved 3.3-3.5 log CFU/g reductions in the coliform counts. After treatment with 200. ppm NEW for >. 10. min, however, there were noticeable color changes (color differences, DE. >. 5.0) in both the shredded cabbages and carrots. In the experiment II, the microbial populations were not affected by cutting and two air bubble treatments, whereas washing with NEW greatly reduced both the aerobic plate counts (1.93-2.17 log CFU/g) and coliform counts (0.97-1.51 log CFU/g). More than 2 log CFU/g of indigenous flora were reduced from raw materials to final products with both shredded cabbages (2.05-2.48 log CFU/g) and carrots (2.34-2.76 log CFU/g). These results may provide useful recommendations for the practical application of highly concentrated NEW in the fresh-cut produce industry to improve the microbiological safety without quality deterioration.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Food Science