Research – Inactivation of Foodborne Pathogens on Inshell Walnuts by UV-C Radiation

Journal of Food Protection

Inshell walnuts could be contaminated with pathogens through direct contact or cross-contamination during harvesting and postharvest hulling, drying, or storage. This study aimed to assess the efficacy of ultraviolet–C (UV–C) radiation in inactivating foodborne pathogens on inshell walnut surfaces. Intact inshell walnut surfaces were inoculated separately with Salmonella spp., Escherichia coli O157:H7, Listeria monocytogenes , and Staphylococcus aureus , and then subjected to UV–C radiation at doses of 29.4, 147.0, 294.0, 588.0, and 882.0 mJ/cm 2 . UV–C radiation inactivated the inoculated pathogens in a dose-dependent manner, and a tailing effect was observed for the inactivation of pathogens. UV–C radiation at 29.4 mJ/cm 2 and 882.0 mJ/cm 2 reduced the populations of  S . Enteritidis PT 30, S . Typhimurium, E. coli O157:H7, L. monocytogenes , and S. aureus on inshell walnut surfaces by 0.82–1.25 and 1.76–2.41 log CFU/walnut, respectively. Scanning electron photomicrographs showed pathogenic bacterial cells in the cracks and crevices of the inshell walnut surface, and the shielding of microorganisms by the cracks and crevices may have contributed to the tailing effect observed during UV–C inactivation. No significant changes ( p  > 0.05) were found in walnut lipid oxidation following UV–C radiation at doses up to 882.0 mJ/cm 2 . Together, the results indicate that UV–C radiation could be a potential technology for reducing the populations of various foodborne pathogens on inshell walnut surfaces while maintaining the quality of walnuts.

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