Evaluation of microwave technology as a food safety intervention to reduce pathogenic and spoiling microorganisms

Date

2021-12

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Abstract

Foodborne pathogens such as Salmonella spp. and Listeria monocytogenes are a big concern for public health due to the number of illnesses caused each year and the economic burden that they represent. Spoiling microorganisms are also another concern in the food industry as they cause food loss and can also produce toxic compounds called mycotoxins. The food industry in collaboration with research institutions have developed food safety interventions to reduce the concentrations of microorganisms to acceptable levels, and to prevent the presence of microorganisms through sanitary design of equipment and processing facilities. Some the most known food safety interventions are heat treatment, sanitation, and use of organic acids; yet emerging technologies such as electromagnetic treatment with microwaves have potential applications in the food industry as food safety interventions and can reduce the time of processing and changes in the food quality. The use of microwaves as food safety intervention for decontamination of Salmonella spp. and Listeria monocytogenes on beef jerky, Salmonella spp. on fresh chicken breast, and Aspergillus niger and Penicillium crustosum on flour tortillas were evaluated. It was found that microwaves can significantly reduce the presence of pathogenic and spoiling microorganisms. For ready to eat (RTE) food products, beef jerky and flour tortillas, the microwave intervention could be applied after packaging as a last step to decontaminate pathogens and spoiling microorganisms that could survive the heat treatment or were product of cross contamination after the heat treatment. For fresh chicken breast, it could be also applied as a post packaging food safety intervention to reduce the concentration of Salmonella spp.


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Keywords

Food Safety Intervention, Pathogenic and Spoiling Microorganisms, Microwaves, Microbiology

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