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Plasma Medicine

ISSN Print: 1947-5764
ISSN Online: 1947-5772

Plasma Medicine

DOI: 10.1615/PlasmaMed.2017019498
pages 397-412

Demonstrating the Potential of Industrial Scale In-Package Atmospheric Cold Plasma for Decontamination of Cherry Tomatoes

Dana Ziuzina
Plasma Research Group, College of Science and Health, Dublin Institute of Technology, Dublin 1, Ireland
N. N. Misra
Plasma Research Group, College of Science and Health, Dublin Institute of Technology, Dublin 1, Ireland
P. J. Cullen
Plasma Research Group, College of Science and Health, Dublin Insitute of Technology, Dublin 1, Ireland; School of Chemical Engineering, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
Kevin Keener
Center for Crop Utilization Research, Iowa State University, Ames, IA
J. P. Mosnier
School of Physical Sciences and National Centre for Plasma Science and Technology, Dublin City University, Glasnevin, Dublin 9, Ireland
Ivan Vilaró
Innovació i Recerca Industrial i Sostenible, 08860 Castelldefels, Barcelona, Spain
Edurne Gaston
Innovació i Recerca Industrial i Sostenible, 08860 Castelldefels, Barcelona, Spain
Paula Bourke
Plasma Research Group, College of Science and Health, Dublin Insitute of Technology, Dublin 1, Ireland

ABSTRACT

Increasing process complexity and consumer demands for less processed goods has led to strong demand for new effective decontamination methods. Therefore, atmospheric cold plasma (ACP) technology is finding increasing attention in the food sector and has potential for diverse decontamination applications. The aim of this work was to investigate the antimicrobial efficacy of an open-air dielectric barrier discharge plasma reactor for the treatment of food products after packaging. The approach was tested under both static and continuous modes of treatment against pathogenic microorganisms Escherichia coli and Listeria innocua inoculated on whole fresh cherry tomatoes and against indigenous microflora of tomatoes. The impact of treatment on produce quality during extended shelf life was also evaluated. Greater than 5 log reductions of E. coli population density surface attached on tomatoes was achieved in 150 s of treatment generated during either static or continuous operational mode. L. innocua exhibited higher resistance, with a maximum of 3.5 log units reduction achieved. No significant difference in color, firmness, pH, or total soluble solids was observed between control and ACP-treated samples. Therefore, this work demonstrates that useful antimicrobial efficacy can be achieved in tandem with quality retention using a pilot scale system in which the mode of operation was optimized for cherry tomato as a representative fresh product.