Most current disinfection strategies for fresh-cut industry are focused on the use of different chemical agents; however, very little has been reported on the effectiveness of the hurdle technology. The effect of combined decontamination methods based on the use of different sanitizers (peroxyacetic acid and chlorine dioxide) and the application of pressure (vacuum/positive pressure) on the inactivation of the foodborne pathogen E. coli
O157:H7 on fresh-cut lettuce (Lactuca sativa
) and carrots (Daucus carota
) was studied. Fresh produce, inoculated with E. coli
O157:H7, was immersed (4 °C, 2 min) in tap water (W), chlorine water (CW), chlorine dioxide (ClO2
: 2 mg/L) and peroxyacetic acid (PAA: 100 mg/L) in combination with: (a) vacuum (V: 10 mbar) or (b) positive pressure application (P: 3 bar). The product quality and antimicrobial effects of the treatment on bacterial counts were determined both in process washing water and on fresh-cut produce. Evidence obtained in this study, suggests that the use of combined methods (P/V + sanitizers) results in a reduction on the microorganism population on produce similar to that found at atmospheric pressure. Moreover, the application of physical methods led to a significant detrimental effect on the visual quality of lettuce regardless of the solution used. Concerning the process water, PAA proved to be an effective alternative to chlorine for the avoidance of cross-contamination.
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