A team of researchers in Korea has found that treating cantaloupe and watermelon with super-heated steam kills food-poisoning bacteria.
They say the quality of the melons is not affected by the treatment.
Their findings are published in the journal of Food Microbiology.
Food poisoning has been a persistent challenge for the cantaloupe industry because the bacteria can be hidden in the crevices.
When the melon is cut, the knife can carry the harmful bacteria to the interior where it can multiply on the fruit before it’s consumed and make victims sick.
The Koreans conducted their experiments with three common food-poisoning bacteria – E.coli O157:H7, Salmonella Typhimurium and Listeria monocytogenes.
“Populations of the three pathogens on cantaloupes and watermelons were reduced by more than 5 log after 200 °C steam treatment for 30 seconds and 10 seconds, respectively.
“The results of this study suggest that SHS treatment can be used as an antimicrobial intervention for cantaloupes and watermelons without inducing quality deterioration,” the authors wrote.