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  • Author or Editor: Aswathy Sreedharan x
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Jaysankar De, Aswathy Sreedharan, You Li, Alan Gutierrez, Jeffrey K. Brecht, Steven A. Sargent and Keith R. Schneider

Cooling procedures used by blueberry (Vaccinium sp.) growers often may include delays up to 24 hours that can damage the fruit through rough handling and adverse temperatures, thereby potentially compromising quality and, subsequently, safety. The objectives of this experiment were to compare forced-air cooling (FAC) compared to hydrocooling without sanitizer (HW) and hydrocooling with sanitizer (HS) regarding the quality and shelf life of southern highbush blueberry [SHB (Vaccinium corymbosum)] and to determine the efficacy of these treatments for reducing Salmonella in SHB. Freshly harvested SHB that were inoculated with a five-serovar cocktail of rifampin-resistant Salmonella were rapidly chilled by FAC or hydrocooling (HW and HS) using a laboratory model system. FAC did not show any significant reduction (P > 0.05) in Salmonella or in the effects on the microbiological quality of blueberries. HW and HS reduced Salmonella by ≈2 and >4 log cfu/g SHB, respectively, on day 0. These postharvest treatments were also evaluated for their ability to help maintain fruit quality throughout a storage period of 21 days at 1 °C. Hydrocooling (both HS and HW) provided more rapid cooling than FAC. Hydrocooled blueberries showed significant weight gain (P < 0.05), whereas FAC resulted in a slight, but insignificant (P > 0.05), reduction in final weight. The results of hydrocooling, both HS and HW, shown in this study could help to extend the shelf life while maintaining or increasing the microbiological quality of fresh market blueberries. Information obtained by this study can be used for developing the best temperature management practices to maintain the postharvest safety and quality of blueberries.