ABSTRACT We developed a novel rapid hygrothermal pasteurization (RHP) method using saturated water vapor with a dew point of 100℃. The aim of this paper is to compare the effect of RHP treatment versus conventional sodium hypochlorite (NaClO) treatments on inactivation of natural mesophilic bacteria and quality attributes on fruits and vegetables. The RHP treatment was performed within a second by free-falling samples (cabbage, cucumber, carrot, bell pepper, pineapple and melon) through cylindrical processing chamber filled with steam. NaClO treatment was performed by washing samples with NaClO solution (100 mg/mL of free chlorine (pH 7), for 1 min). The RHP treatment showed a significantly higher inactivation effect than NaClO treatment on all tested samples. The RHP treatment had a slightly larger influence on color and vitamin C content than NaClO treatment in cabbage. Furthermore, the effects of treatment time and operated temperature were also determined using microbial model system. Elongation of treatment time did not significantly increase the microbial inactivation effect. Lowering of operated temperature by mixing air into steam tended to decrease the inactivation effect. From these results, RHP treatment could be used as an alternative method for decontaminating microorganisms on fruits and vegetables, except on leafy vegetable. In addition, it is suggested that microbial inactivation by RHP treatment was achieved through the initial condensation stage of water vapor on sample surface. By contrast, interfusion of air disturbed the effective condensation of water vapor.
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