Recent foodborne disease outbreaks involving minimally processed tree nuts have generated a need for improved sanitation procedures. Chemical sprays and dips have shown promise for reducing pathogens on fresh produce, but little research has been conducted for in-shell hazelnuts. This study analyzed the effectiveness of 3 chemical sanitizers for reducing Salmonella on in-shell hazelnuts. Treatments of water, sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl; 25 and 50 ppm), peroxyacetic acid (PAA; 80 and 120 ppm), and acidified sodium chlorite (ASC; 450, 830, and 1013 ppm) were sprayed onto hazelnut samples inoculated with Salmonella enterica serovar Panama. Hazelnut samples were immersed in liquid cultures of S. Panama for 24 h, air-dried, and then sprayed with water and chemical treatments. Inoculation achieved S. Panama populations of approximately 8.04 log CFU/hazelnut. Surviving S. panama populations were evaluated using a nonselective medium (tryptic soy agar), incubated 3 h, and then overlaid with selective media (xylose lysine deoxycholate agar). All of the chemical treatments significantly reduced S. Panama populations (P ≤ 0.0001). The most effective concentrations of ASC, PAA, and NaOCl treatments reduced populations by 2.65, 1.46, and 0.66 log units, respectively. ASC showed the greatest potential for use as a postharvest sanitation treatment.
The use of chemical sanitizing sprays could offer a cost-effective way to reduce surface microbial contamination of raw, in-shell hazelnuts prior to further processing.