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Effect of UV-C irradiation and heat treatment on the shelf life stability of a lemon-melon juice blend: Multivariate statistical approach
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Heat treatment and UV-C irradiation of lemon and melon juice (LMJ) blends were comparatively evaluated by examining their impact on E. coli K12 (ATCC 25253) and their physicochemical properties, i.e., total soluble solids (TSS), pH, titratable acidity (TA), color, turbidity and absorbance coefficient, both immediately after processing and during 30 days of refrigerated storage. The newly formulated LMJ blend containing 12% (v/v) lemon juice (pH 3.92 ± 0.01) scored the highest in the consumer acceptance test. Upon UV-C irradiation (2.461 J/mL) and heat treatment (72 °C, 71 s), the E. coli K12 population in LMJ blend was reduced by > 6 log10 CFU/mL. Principal component analysis (PCA) and hierarchical cluster analyses (HCA) showed a clear discrimination among the physicochemical properties of the control and the UV-C and heat-treated LMJ blends during storage, suggesting that UV-C irradiation has a comparable effect on microbial stability at 4 °C and better quality preservation performance than heat treatment. Industrial relevance Melon juice has many beneficial health effects. It has high sugar content, pH (5.6-6.0) and a fairly short shelf life. Therefore, pasteurization is required. But the thermal pasteurization has some undesired effects on the juice quality. Consumer demands for high quality fruit juice with fresh-like characteristics has markedly expanded in recent years. In this study, an alternative lemon-melon juice (LMJ) blend formulation was developed, and pasteurized using both UV-C irradiation and mild heat treatment. The shelf life stability of pasteurized LMJ blends was assessed by means of principal component analysis and hierarchical cluster analysis. The shelf life of LMJ blends treated by both methods was increased from 2 days to 30 days. The multivariate data analysis was successfully applied as a tool for an overall evaluation of the shelf-life of the product. UV-C irradiation has a comparable effect on microbial stability at 4 °C and better quality preservation performance than heat treatment for obtaining both shelf-stable and fresh-like LMJ blends. This would be a major advantage in processing of nutritious juice products.