Impact of Food Disinfection using Ozone and other Oxidants on the Beneficial Antioxidant Biothiol Contents in Vegetables

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J. Agriculture and Food Chemistry



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In this work we investigated the impact of food disinfection on the beneficial biothiol contents in a suite of vegetables consumed daily, including spinach, green bean, asparagus, cucumber, and red pepper. Four disinfection technologies commonly studied and/or used in food processing and preservation, including hydrogen peroxide, free chlorine, and gaseous- and aqueous-phase ozone, were examined with common dosages and contact times. Results indicate that the common disinfection technologies may result in significant loss of beneficial biothiols in vegetables which are essentially important to human health. For example, as much as 70% of biothiols were lost when spinach was treated with hydrogen peroxide (5.0 wt %) for 30 min. Approximately 48−54% of biothiols were destroyed by free chlorine and gaseous- and aqueous-phase ozone under typical contacting conditions. In red pepper, about 60−71% of reduced glutathione was oxidized by the disinfectants. The potential decrease in biothiols during disinfection was dependent upon the biothiol type, the disinfectant, and the vegetable. The effectiveness of total bacterial inactivation by the four disinfection technologies was concurrently evaluated. Results show that free chlorine is most effective, achieving disinfection efficiencies of greater than 4 log for all study vegetables. This study may provide important information for the food industry to design optimum contacting methods for vegetables to simultaneously achieve sufficient bacterial disinfection while minimizing loss of beneficial biothiols.

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