Abstract: This study was undertaken to investigate the antimicrobial effect of organic acids against Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella Typhimurium, and Listeria monocytogenes on whole red organic apples and lettuce. Several studies have been conducted to evaluate organic acids as sanitizers. However, no studies have compared antimicrobial effects of various organic acids on organic fresh produce, including evaluation of color changes of produce. Apples and lettuce were inoculated with a cocktail of 3 strains each of 3 foodborne pathogens provided above and treated with 1% and 2% organic acids (propionic, acetic, lactic, malic, and citric acid) for 0, 0.5, 1, 5, and 10 min. With increasing treatment time and acid concentration, organic acid treatments showed significant reduction compared to the control treatment (distilled water), and differences in antimicrobial effects between organic acids were observed. After 10 min of treatment with 1% and 2% organic acids in apples, propionic (0.92 to 2.75 log reduction), acetic (0.52 to 2.78 log reduction), lactic (1.69 to >3.42 log reduction), malic (1.48 to >3.42 log reduction), and citric acid (1.52 to >3.42 log reduction) exhibited significant (P < 0.05) antibacterial effects against 3 foodborne pathogens compared to the control treatment. In lettuce, propionic (0.93 to 1.52 log reduction), acetic (1.13 to 1.74 log reduction), lactic (1.87 to 2.54 log reduction), malic (2.32 to 2.98 log reduction), and citric acid (1.85 to 2.86 log reduction) showed significant (P < 0.05) effects compared to the control treatment. Changes in sample color subjected to organic acids treatment were not significant during storage.
Practical Application: It is suggested that organic acids have a potential as sanitizers for organic fresh produce. These data may help the organic produce industry provide safe fresh produce for consumers.