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Nutritional composition and food safety interventions of plant and animal-sourced foods




Swing, Caleb John, author
Nair, Mahesh Narayanan, advisor
Geornaras, Ifigenia, committee member
Weir, Tiffany L., committee member
Belk, Keith E., committee member

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Nutritional composition of plant- and animal-sourced food is important for human growth and development, and yet even nutritious food-groups can be detrimental to human health if contaminated with harmful pathogens upon consumption. Therefore, two studies were performed to assess the nutritive quality of plant- and animal-sourced proteins; as well as, the antimicrobial efficacy of novel sanitizers against a foodborne pathogen attributed to illness from plant- and animal-sourced food consumption. In the first study, nutrient profiles of animal-derived meat products, which are traditionally an important source of nutrients in the human diet, were compared to novel plant-based meat alternatives, which have been growing in popularity among modern consumers. Nutritional composition of two different formulations of the Beyond Meat Burger (BMB1 and BMB2), Impossible Food Burger (IFB1 and IFB2), 80/20 ground pork (GP), and 80/20 ground beef (GB) were analyzed for proximate, mineral, vitamin, fatty acid, and amino acid profiles. Crude protein and crude fat content did not differ (P > 0.05) for each product in cooked states. Plant-based meat alternatives were either numerically greater than or did not differ statistically (P < 0.05) from animal-derived meat products in every mineral tested. Fat soluble vitamin A, D2, D3, and K1 were below detection limits (< 0.3 mcg/g for vitamin A; < 0.001 mcg/g for vitamin A, D2, D3, and K1) in all raw and cooked samples. Vitamin E content in raw and cooked plant-based meat alternatives was substantially greater (P < 0.05) than in raw and cooked animal-derived meat products. Raw and cooked GP and GB were substantially greater (P < 0.05) than IFB1 and IFB2 in pantothenic acid (B5) but otherwise were numerically similar to or statistically less (P < 0.05) than IFB1 and IFB2 in most B vitamins tested. Total saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids did not differ (P > 0.05) for BMB2, IFB2, GP, and GB. IFB1 and IFB2 were greater (P < 0.05) than GP and GB in oleic acid (C18:1) content. Fatty acid profiles of raw and cooked BMB2 and IFB2 did not differ (P > 0.05) from one another. Essential amino acid composition of raw and cooked plant-based meat alternatives and animal-derived meat products were numerically comparable. Raw BMB2 did not differ (P < 0.05) from raw GP in histidine, lysine, and threonine content and was otherwise greater (P < 0.05) than raw GP in tyrosine, isoleucine, leucine, and valine. Raw GP was only numerically greater (P > 0.05) than raw BMB2 in methionine and tryptophan. In conclusion, plant-based meat alternatives assessed in this study were comparable to animal-derived GP and GB in most nutrient profiles assessed, providing high values of minerals, vitamins, fatty acids, and amino acids. Nonetheless, the high concentrations of certain nutrients as well as the integration of these nutrients into a food matrix may have implications for bioavailability and must be further investigated. In the second study, efficacy of novel antimicrobial sanitizers was assessed in relation to reducing Listeria monocytogenes contamination on a plant-based food. Both plant and animal-sourced foods have proven to be vectors of L. monocytogenes contamination, but a largescale, multistate listeriosis outbreak was attributed to whole cantaloupes raising concerns for the potential contamination of other fresh produce not previously associated with L. monocytogenes contamination. This study assessed efficacy of chlorine as well as different concentrations of novel sanitizer and sulfuric-acid based surfactant blends, peroxyacetic acid (PAA) and ProduceShield Plus (PSP), against inoculated L. monocytogenes populations on whole cantaloupe melons (Cucumis melo L. var. reticulatus). Cantaloupe melons (n = 6) were inoculated with a five strain mixture of L. monocytogenes (7 - 8 log CFU/cantaloupe) and immersed in water, chlorine (40 ppm), PSP (pH 1.81), PAA (40, 80, 250 ppm), or PAA+PSP (40, 80, 250 ppm and PSP blend) sanitizer solutions, under slight agitation for 0.5, 1, and 5 min exposure times. Recovery of surviving L. monocytogenes populations after immersion treatment, was accomplished by vigorously shaking whole cantaloupes in D/E neutralizing broth and plating the rinsates on PALCAM agar. The L. monocytogenes inoculation level achieved on whole cantaloupes was 7.9 ± 0.4 log CFU/cantaloupe. Immersion of inoculated whole cantaloupes in water or PSP achieved pathogen reductions that ranged between 0.3 to 0.5 log CFU/cantaloupe, and 0.9 to 1.8 log CFU/cantaloupe, respectively, across the three different exposure times (0.5, 1, 5 min). Reductions of L. monocytogenes populations on inoculated cantaloupes treated with 40 ppm chlorine achieved less than or equal to 3.3 log CFU/cantaloupe reductions across the different exposure times; while different concentrations of PAA (40, 80, 250 ppm) all achieved greater than or equal to 3.1 log CFU/cantaloupe reductions across the three exposure times. Different concentrations of PAA (40, 80, 250 ppm) blended with PSP resulted in pathogen reductions of between 3. 2 and > 4.9 log CFU/cantaloupe across the different exposure times. Decontamination efficacy of each PAA concentration level, within each treatment and exposure time, was similar (P > 0.05) to that of its corresponding PAA+PSP blend for most cases, although the PAA+PSP blends had numerically greater reductions than each corresponding PAA treatment and contained several samples which were below the detection limit of (2.7 log CFU/cantaloupe). In summary, PAA and the PAA+PSP blends demonstrated the greatest antimicrobial efficacy against L. monocytogenes populations on inoculated whole cantaloupes. More research should be conducted to elucidate a possible synergistic effect between PAA and sulfuric acid-based surfactants, such as PSP, on plant and animal-sourced foods susceptible to L. monocytogenes contamination.


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plant-based meat alternative
produce safety
post-harvest interventions
animal-derived meat product


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