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Efficacy of aqueous and alcohol-based quaternary ammonium sanitizers for reducing Salmonella in dusts generated in almond hulling and shelling facilities

Journal of Food Science
Wen-Xian Du, Michelle D. Danyluk, and Linda J. Harris

ABSTRACT

Large volumes of fine particulate matter or “dust” (soil, hulls, and shells) generated when hulls and shells are removed from almond kernels complicate cleaning and sanitation procedures in the huller-sheller (HS) environment. This study evaluated the efficacy of 3 aqueous quaternary ammonium sanitizers (AQuats) and an isopropyl alcohol-based quaternary ammonium sanitizer (IPAQuat) for reducing Salmonella in dust collected from 2 HS facilities. Dust (1 g) was thoroughly mixed with 1 to 2 mL of inoculum (1 to 5 log CFU/g) before adding 1 to 7 mL of water, an AQuat (200 or 1000 ppm), or IPAQuat (200 ppm, 58.6% isopropyl alcohol) and incubated at 15 and 30 °C for up to 21 d. At either 15 or 30 °C increases in Salmonella populations in the dust were not significantly different following addition of either water or AQuats. No significant differences were observed upon water or AQuat addition, either among the 3 AQuats tested, the concentration or volume of AQuat, or the initial level of Salmonella. When IPAQuat was added to dust inoculated at 1 to 7 log CFU/g, Salmonella levels were reduced to less than 1.3 log CFU/g after treatment and after incubation at 30 °C for 48 h. IPAQuat was an effective sanitizer compared to the AQuats, even in the presence of high levels of organic material. Recent large-scale outbreaks of salmonellosis with low-moisture foods have increased concerns regarding their safety. Little research or guidance is available on appropriate cleaning and sanitation programs for these food types. This research is focused on an evaluation of sanitation options for low-moisture foods, in particular almonds. The information should be applicable and useful to the nut industry and to other low-moisture foods.

Practical Application: Recent large-scale outbreaks of salmonellosis with low-moisture foods have increased concerns regarding their safety. Little research or guidance is available on appropriate cleaning and sanitation programs for these food types. This research is focused on an evaluation of sanitation options for low-moisture foods, in particular almonds. The information should be applicable and useful to the nut industry and to other low-moisture foods.