Application of Ozone for Inactivation of Escherichia Coli O157 in Alfalfa Sprouts

Application of Ozone for Inactivation of Escherichia Coli O157:H7 on Inoculated Alfalfa Sprouts  

Journal Of Food Processing And Preservation Research, 27 (2003) 51-64

Sharma, Demirci, Beuhat, Fett


Interpretive Summary: Alfalfa sprouts contaminated with the bacterial pathogens Salmonella and Escherichia coli O157:H7 have been the source of several foodborne outbreaks in the US and other countries. New, more effective antibacterial treatments are required to ensure the microbial safety of sprouts for the consuming public. In this study, we tested the ability of ozone in water to eliminate E. coli O157:H7 from inoculated alfalfa sprouts. Treatments (from 2 to 64 minutes in durations) with ozone in water (up to 21 ppm) were tested. In some experiments the ozone was continuously fed into the water solution during treatment with or without pressurization. Immersion of sprouts into ozone in water reduced bacterial populations by less than 90%. With continuous feeding of ozone, reductions increased to 99%. The use of pressure during ozone treatments did not increase efficacy. The use of ozone alone will not ensure the microbial safety of sprouts, but ozone in combination with other antibacterial treatments may be able to achieve that goal.

Technical Abstract: Chemical treatments to eliminate pathogens on inoculated sprouts have shown little success. This study investigated the antimicrobial potential of ozone on alfalfa sprouts. Alfalfa sprouts inoculated with a five strain cocktail of Escherichia coli O157:H7 were immersed in water containing 21 ppm ozone for 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64 min at 4 C. To increase accessibility of ozone into sprout crevices alternative treatments with continuous ozone sparging with and without pressurization were evaluated. Immersion of inoculated alfalfa sprouts in water containing 21-ppm ozone reduced the population of E. coli O157:H7 by 85.8% at 64 min. There was no significant difference (P > 0.05) between treatment and control and also between different time intervals. Continuous ozone sparging resulted in 85.0 to 99.4% reduction, which was significantly higher (P 0.05) than reduction by sparging with air. Application of low hydrostatic pressure of 12 psi for 5 min subsequent to continuous ozone sparging for 2 - 64 min reduced E. coli O157:H7 populations by 99.0%. Pressurized ozone treatments did not differ significantly from un-pressurized ozone treatments except at 32 min. Ozone treatment did not have any visible detrimental effect on sprouts quality. Further investigation is required to develop methods for ozone introduction for decontaminating sprouts to reduce health risk. However ozone has the potential to replace chemical treatments being used currently.