Intervention technologies for inactivating Salmonella in whole chia seeds are currently limited. The determination of the thermal inactivation kinetics of Salmonella o n chia seeds and selection of an appropriate nonpathogenic surrogate will provide a knowledge foundation for selecting and optimizing thermal pasteurization processes for chia seeds. In this study, chia seed samples from three separate production lots were inoculated with a five strain Salmonella cocktail or Enterococcus faecium NRRL-B2354 and equilibrated to 0.53 aw at room temperature (25 °C). After equilibration for at least three days, the inoculated seeds were subjected to isothermal treatments at 80, 85, or 90 °C. Samples were taken out at six timepoints and enumerated for survivors. Initial dilution of whole chia seeds was performed in a filter bag at a 1:30 ratio after it was shown to have similar recovery to grinding the seeds. Survivor data were fitted to consolidated models consisting of a primary model (log-linear or Weibull) and one secondary model (Bigelow). E. faecium exhibited higher thermal resistance than Salmonella , suggesting its suitability as a conservative nonpathogenic surrogate. The Weibull model was a better fit for the survivor data than the log-linear model for both bacteria due to its lower root mean square error and corrected Akaike’s Information Criterion values. Measurements of lipid oxidation and fatty acid content indicated a few statistically different values compared to the control samples, but the overall difference in magnitudes were relatively small. The thermal inactivation kinetics of Salmonella and E. faecium o n chia seeds as presented in this study can serve as a basis for developing thermal pasteurization processes for chia seeds.
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