Light inactivation of food-related pathogenic bacteria using a pulsed power source.
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The effects of high intensity light emissions, produced by a novel pulsed power energization technique (PPET), on the survival of bacterial populations of verocytotoxigenic Escherichia coli (serotype 0157:H7) and Listeria monocytogenes (serotype 4b) were investigated. Using this PPET approach, many megawatts (MW) of peak electrical power were dissipated in the light source in an extremely short energization time (about 1 μs). The light source was subjected to electric field levels greater than could be achieved under conventional continuous operation, which led to a greater production of the shorter bacteriocidal wavelengths of light. In the exposure experiments, pre‐determined bacterial populations were spread onto the surface of Trypone Soya Yeast Extract Agar and were then treated to a series of light pulses (spectral range of 200–530 nm) with an exposure time ranging from 1 to 512 μs. While results showed that as few as 64 light pulses of 1 μs duration were required to reduce E. coli 0157:H7 populations by 99·9% and Listeria populations by 99%, the greater the number of light pulses the larger the reduction in cell numbers (P < 0·01). Cell populations of E. coli 0157:H7 and Listeria were reduced by as much as 6 and 7 log10 orders at the upper exposure level of 512 μs, respectively. Survival data revealed that E. coli 0157:H7 was less resistant to the lethal effects of radiation (P < 0·01). These studies have shown that pulsed light emissions can significantly reduce populations of E. coli 0157:H7 and L. monocytogenes on exposed surfaces with exposure times which are 4–6 orders of magnitude lower than those required using continuous u.v. light sources.
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