Electrolyzed Water to Kill Pathogens

September 30/Food Business Week -- "Treatment of fresh fruits and vegetables with electrolyzed water (EW) has been shown to kill or reduce foodborne pathogens. We evaluated the efficacy of EW in killing Escherichia coli O157:H7 on iceberg lettuce, cabbage, lemons, and tomatoes by using washing and/or chilling treatments simulating those followed in some foodservice kitchens," researchers in the U.S. report.

"Greatest reduction levels on lettuce were achieved by sequentially washing with 14-A (amperage) acidic EW (AcEW) for 15 or 30 seconds followed by chilling in 16-A AcEW for 15 minutes. This procedure reduced the pathogen by 2.8 and 3.0 log CFU per leaf, respectively, whereas washing and chilling with tap water reduced the pathogen by 1.9 and 2.4 log CFU per leaf. Washing cabbage leaves for 15 or 30 seconds with tap water or 14-A AcEW reduced the pathogen by 2.0 and 3.0 log CFU per leaf and 2.5 to 3.0 log CFU per leaf, respectively. The pathogen was reduced by 4.7 log CFU per lemon by washing with 14-A AcEW and 4.1 and 4.5 log CFU per lemon by washing with tap water for 15 or 30 seconds. A reduction of 5.3 log CFU per lemon was achieved by washing with 14-A alkaline EW for 15 seconds prior to washing with 14-A AcEW for 15 seconds. Washing tomatoes with tap water or 14-A AcEW for 15 seconds reduced the pathogen by 6.4 and 7.9 log CFU per tomato, respectively," wrote P. Pangloli and colleagues, University of Georgia.

The researchers concluded, "Application of AcEW using procedures mimicking foodservice operations should help minimize cross-contamination and reduce the risk of E. coli 0 1 57:H7 being present on produce at the time of consumption."

Pangloli and colleagues published their study in the Journal of Food Protection ("Reduction of Escherichia coli O157:H7 on Produce by Use of Electrolyzed Water under Simulated Foodservice Operation Conditions." Journal of Food Protection, 2009;72(9):1854-1861).

For additional information, contact Y.C. Hung, University of Georgia, Dept. of Food Science & Technology, 1109 Experimental St., Griffin, GA 30223.

From the October 12, 2009, Prepared Foods E-dition