Introduction

Since the 1950s chemical gases, such as ethylene oxide, propylene oxide, formaldehyde, and p-propiolactone, have been used to sterilize medical products and biological preparations that are not compatible with heat or radiation sterilization. In the 1980s sterilization of these products using chemical gases, such as chlorine dioxide (ClO2), ozone, and hydrogen peroxide vapor or plasma, emerged as a new technology [1-4]. For the purpose of this chapter, the gaseous form is considered as the direct application of the gas phase. The vapor form is considered as the application of a vaporized chemical from a liquid starting material.

In more recent years applications of such gaseous chemical disinfectants are gaining interest in the food industry for reducing microorganisms. Researchers have successfully used ClO2 gas to sterilize bulk orange juice storage tanks [5] and have also found that ozone gas can eliminate insects in grain storage facilities without harming food quality or the environment [6,7]. Other studies have focused on potential applications of gaseous or vapor-phase antimicrobials for decontamination of fruits and vegetables. Such antimicrobials being studied include ClO2 gas, ozone, allyl isothiocyanate vapor, hydrogen peroxide vapor, acetic acid vapor, and natural volatile compounds (methyl jasmonate, trans-anethole, carvacrol, cinnamic aldehyde, eugenol, linalool, and thymol). ClO2 and ozone gases are examples of promising technologies which have been shown to lead to high microbial reductions. This chapter reviews the efficacy of these antimicrobials in inactivation of microorganisms on fruits and vegetables.

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