Foodborne illnesses caused by norovirus contaminated fresh produce remain a food safety concern worldwide. In the present study, the impacts of commercial and home processing conditions of strawberries were evaluated for inactivation of the MS2 bacteriophage. MS2 was used as a surrogate of norovirus and was spot inoculated onto strawberries to achieve 6.6 log PFU/g. The inoculated strawberries were washed with tap water, electrolyzed water, or 50 ppm chlorine for 90 s prior to and after storage. After initial washing, the strawberries were separately stored at −20 °C and −80 °C for 30 days. Change in MS2 populations on strawberries was evaluated by plaque assay method on day 1, 15, and 30 for −20 °C and −80 °C groups. The results showed that washing strawberries prior to storage resulted in a significant decrease (approximately 1 log PFU/g) of MS2 population regardless of the treatment (p < 0.05). Frozen storage had minor effects on inactivating MS2, which resulted in approximately a 0.5 log PFU/g reduction at the end of storage. Washing frozen berries in electrolyzed water or 50 ppm chlorine on day 30 resulted in an additional 1 log PFU/g decrease in MS2 compared to water alone. These results suggest that washing strawberries with a chemical antimicrobial prior to and post frozen storage may enhance microbial safety.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science
- Antimicrobial agents
- MS2 bacteriophage