Purpose: Our objective was to develop a surface pasteurization process for enhancing microbiological safety of cantaloupes.
Methods: Whole cantaloupes, surface inoculated with three strains of L. monocytogenes were stored at 4°C for 24 h prior to processing. Cantaloupes were, then, treated at 80°C for 210 s. Fresh-cut samples were prepared from treated and non-treated cantaloupes and stored at 6°C for up to 12 days.
Results: Hot water treatments (80°C for 210 s) reduced L. monocytogenes populations in excess of 5 log CFU/g rind. Cantaloupes that were treated and stored at 6°C for 12 days retained their firmness qualities and maintained nondetectable levels of L. monocytogenes as compared to the controls. Also, levels of L. monocytogenes on fresh-cut cantaloupes, prepared from treated cantaloupes and stored for 12 days at 6°C, were nondetectable as compared to the controls.
Significance: These results indicate that the hot water surface pasteurization at 80°C for 210 s will enhance the microbiological safety of fresh and fresh-cut cantaloupes and will extend the shelf life of this commodity. These results provide a framework to packers/producers of fresh and fresh-cut cantaloupes for the potential use of hot water as an intervention treatment for enhancing the microbiological safety and qualities of this commodity.