Department of Food Science and Technology, Oregon State University, 100 Wiegand Hall, Corvallis, Oregon 97331-8575, USA.
Alfalfa sprouts have been implicated in several salmonellosis outbreaks in recent years. The disinfectant effects of acidic electrolyzed oxidizing (EO) water against Salmonella enterica both in an aqueous system and on artificially contaminated alfalfa seeds were determined. The optimum ratio of seeds to EO water was determined in order to maximize the antimicrobial effect of EO water. Seeds were combined with EO water at ratios (wt/vol) of 1:4, 1:10, 1:20, 1:40, and 1:100, and the characteristics of EO water (pH, oxidation reduction potential [ORP], and free chlorine concentration) were determined. When the ratio of seeds to EO water was increased from 1:4 to 1:100, the pH decreased from 3.82 to 2.63, while the ORP increased from +455 to +1,073 mV. EO water (with a pH of 2.54 to 2.38 and an ORP of +1,083 to +1,092 mV) exhibited strong potential for the inactivation of S. enterica in an aqueous system (producing a reduction of at least 6.6 log CFU/ml). Treatment of artificially contaminated alfalfa seeds with EO water at a seed-to-EO water ratio of 1:100 for 15 and 60 min significantly reduced Salmonella populations by 2.04 and 1.96 log CFU/g, respectively (P < 0.05), while a Butterfield’s buffer wash decreased Salmonella populations by 0.18 and 0.23 log CFU/g, respectively. After treatment, EO water was Salmonella negative by enrichment with or without neutralization. Germination of seeds was not significantly affected (P > 0.05) by treatment for up to 60 min in electrolyzed water. The uptake of liquid into the seeds was influenced by the internal gas composition (air, N2, or O2) of seeds before the liquid was added.