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1.6 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES, Microbiology
Experiments were conducted to determine the effectiveness of different treatments based on the use of neutral electrolysed water (EW) on fresh-cut lettuce. EW was diluted to obtain different free chlorine concentrations (120, 60 and 12 ppm) and compared with standard washing treatment of 120 ppm chlorine solution. Shelf-life quality and safety markers were studied at the beginning and at the end of the 7-day storage at 4 ºC. The use of EW decreased the respiration rate of the samples which might be related with the observed reduction in microbial spoilage. The use of EW also increased the activity of a browning-related enzyme (polyphenoloxydase) although sensory results showed all samples as acceptable at the end of the 7 day-storage. Perhaps longer storage time might increase the risk to browning development in the samples treated with EW. The highest EW concentration (120 ppm free chlorine) was the most effective treatment in reducing sample microbial load; however this treatment also affected the final produce with effects such as loss of turgor, plasmolysis and a reduction in mineral content.
Results suggest an intermediate EW concentration with 60 ppm free chlorine could be an alternative to 120 ppm chlorine (from sodium hypochlorite) for sanitizing fresh-cut vegetables, reducing to the half the amount of chlorine used and maintaining the antimicrobial effectiveness and without differences affecting the quality. However further studies will be necessaries in order to observe the effect of the oxidising capacity of EW on other quality and safety markers as pathogens and nutritional content.
Rico, D. et al. (2008) Use of neutral electrolysed water (EW) for quality maintenance and shelf-life extension of minimally processed lettuce. Innovative Food Science & Emerging Technologies 9, 37–48.doi:10.1016/j.ifset.2007.05.002
Technological Sector Research grant (2002–2006) and International Collaboration Award Scheme (ICAS) (2005–2007).