The same sanitizing agent used to rid federal office buildings of anthrax – chlorine dioxide gas – can effectively eliminate deadly bacteria from apples and other fruits and vegetables, according to Purdue University researchers.
Scientists at Purdue began experiments using the gas to kill pathogens found on food long before anthrax was detected in mail sent to offices in New York and Washington, D.C., shortly after the terrorist attacks one year ago. The latest university test measured how effectively different potencies of chlorine dioxide (ClO2) gas used over various periods of time could kill Listeria monocytogenes cells on apples.
Results of the study, published in the September issue of Food Microbiology, demonstrated that the vapor was able to eradicate all of the contaminant on the fruits skin and significantly reduce the bacteria in the stem cavity and the calyx, said Richard Linton, director of Purdues Center for Food Safety Engineering and senior author. The calyx is the apples bottom, directly opposite from the stem cavity.
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