Controlling Foodborne Microorganisms in Alfalfa Sprouts
Type of DegreeMaster's Thesis
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Raw sprouts are consistently found as the source of produce related foodborne illness outbreaks. Research and past experiences illustrate that intervention methods currently used in the sprout industry are occasionally ineffective. In addition, possible alternatives proven to reduce microbial loads, oftentimes negatively affect the physical or economical attributes of the product. The use of MC (1-chloro-2,2,5,5-tetramethyl-4-imidazolidinone), an extremely stable monochlorinated N – halamine that possesses high antimicrobial activity, may serve as a plausible alternative without the impractical drawbacks. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the antimicrobial activity of MC, to investigate its effectiveness at reducing foodborne pathogens on alfalfa sprouts, and to determine if MC is a commercially applicable intervention strategy for the control of pathogens in raw sprouts. The antimicrobial test of MC illustrated that 0.05% MC solution was able to kill Salmonella, Escherichia coli O157:H7, and Listeria monocytogenes completely at 106 CFU/mL. Based on this finding, we investigated the antimicrobial activity of MC on inoculated sprouts. Results showed that MC was able to reduce bacterial populations, however, the reductions were minimal due to the physical structure of alfalfa sprouts sheltering pathogens from the biocidal effects of the compound. This application of MC was not found to compromise the economical integrity of mature alfalfa sprouts, however, further research is warranted to discover how to effectively inactivate sheltered pathogens in sprouts to enhance their microbial safety.