Individual chemical and non-chemical treatments have failed to disinfect alfalfa seeds and sprouts from pathogens thoroughly. This study investigated the disinfection of alfalfa seeds and sprouts using a procedure combining ozone with acidic (pH 3.0) electrolyzed water (AEW). Inoculated alfalfa seeds with a cocktail of 3 strains Salmonella and 3 strains of STEC were treated sequentially with aqueous ozone followed by AEW. Treatment started by immersing the samples into ozonated water (5 mg/L ozone) for 15 or 20 minutes with persistent oxygen feeding pressurized with 10 psi. The samples then were immersed in 1 L of AEW for 15 min. Salmonella and STEC were significantly (P < 0.05) reduced by 3.6 and 2.9 log CFU/g on seeds respectively, and by 3.1 and 3.0 log CFU/g reduction on sprouts. Significant differences (P < 0.05) were found in the magnitude of the log reduction between Salmonella and STEC on seeds and between seeds and sprouts. Using combined treatments showed no significant changes in the quality, including shelf life, weight, and color in sprouts as compared to controls. The findings suggest that the combination of ozone and AEW is effective in inactivation of Salmonella and STEC on alfalfa seeds and sprouts with no adverse effects on sprouts quality.
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