The Effects of Cold Plasma-Activated Water Treatment on the Microbial Growth and Antioxidant Properties of Fresh-Cut Pears

  • Chen Chen
  • Chenghui Liu
  • Aili Jiang
  • Qingxin Guan
  • Xiaoyuan Sun
  • Sisi Liu
  • Kexin Hao
  • Wenzhong HuEmail author
Original Research


Herein, we examined the effects of plasma-activated water (PAW) treatment on the native microflora survival, quality maintenance, and antioxidant activity of fresh-cut pears, which were washed with PAW under three different conditions (peak voltage = 6, 8, and 10 kV) for 5 min and then stored at 4 °C for 12 days. Distilled water and sodium hypochlorite treatment were used as control and comparison, respectively. Results showed that all PAW treatments significantly inhibited the growth of aerobic bacteria, yeast, and mold during storage, with the 8-kV PAW treatment maintaining the lowest growth rate. Additionally, no significant change was observed in the soluble solid content and titratable acidy of fresh-cut pears treated with PAW. Treatment by 6-kV PAW significantly slowed down the softening of fresh-cut pears, while the 8-kV PAW treatment significantly reduced the mass loss and the total phenolic content (P < 0.05). The ascorbic acid content and radical scavenging activity (DPPH and ABTS) of fresh-cut pears were affected by PAW treatment only at the beginning of storage. After 8 days of storage, no significant differences were found in ascorbic acid content and radical scavenging activity among the samples (P > 0.05). Furthermore, PAW outperformed sodium hypochlorite in antimicrobial effectiveness and quality maintenance. Taken together, these results suggest that PAW treatment might be a promising strategy to control microbial growth and maintain the quality of fresh-cut pears.


Plasma-activated water Fresh-cut pear Antioxidant activity Antioxidants 



We thank Dean Dongping Liu from the School of Physics and Materials Engineering, and Liaoning Key Laboratory of Optoelectronic Films & Materials Plasma for supplying the plasma device and plasma-activated water.

Funding information

The work was financially supported by “Thirteenth Five-Year Plan” for National key research and development program (no. 2016YFD0400903), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (no. 31601517, 31801598), and High-level Personnel Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program in Dalian City (2017RQ147).


  1. Andrasch, M., Stachowiak, J., Schlüter, O., Schnabel, U., & Ehlbeck, J. (2017). Scale-up to pilot plant dimensions of plasma processed water generation for fresh-cut lettuce treatment. Food Packaging and Shelf Life, 14, 40–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Berardinelli, A., Pasquali, F., Cevoli, C., Trevisani, M., Ragni, L., Mancusi, R., & Manfreda, G. (2016). Sanitisation of fresh-cut celery and radicchio by gas plasma treatments in water medium. Postharvest Biology and Technology, 111, 297–304.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Center for Disease Control and Prevention CDC. (2016). Disinfection by-products. (Accessed 4 February 2017).
  4. Chen, C., Hu, W., Zhang, R., Jiang, A., & Zou, Y. (2016). Levels of phenolic compounds, antioxidant capacity, and microbial counts of fresh-cut onions after treatment with a combination of nisin and citric acid. Horticulture, Environment and Biotechnology, 57(3), 266–273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chomkitichai, W., Faiyue, B., Rachtanapun, P., Uthaibutra, J., & Saengnil, K. (2014). Enhancement of the antioxidant defense system of post-harvested ‘daw’ longan fruit by chlorine dioxide fumigation. Scientia Horticulturae, 178, 138–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Grzegorzewski, F., Ehlbeck, J., Schluter, O., Kroh, L. W., & Rohn, S. (2011). Treating lamb’s lettuce with a cold plasma−influence of atmospheric pressure Ar plasma immanent species on the phenolic profile of Valerianella locusta. LWT--Food Science and Technology, 44(10), 2285–2289.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Guo, J., Huang, K., Wang, X., Lyu, C., Yang, N., Li, Y., & Wang, J. (2017). Inactivation of yeast on grapes by plasma-activated water and its effects on quality attributes. Journal of Food Protection, 80(2), 225–230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Jia, X. C., Lai, S., & Yang, H. (2015). Chitosan combined with calcium chloride impacts fresh-cut honeydew melon by stabilising nanostructures of sodium-carbonate-soluble pectin. Food Control, 53, 195–205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Jiang, J., Lu, Y., Li, J., Li, L., He, X., Shao, H., & Dong, Y. (2014). Effect of seed treatment by cold plasma on the resistance of tomato to Ralstonia solanacearum (bacterial wilt). PLoS One, 9(5), e97753.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Kolniak-Ostek, J., Oszmiański, J., & Wojdyło, A. (2013). Effect of apple leaves addition on physicochemical properties of cloudy beverages. Industrial Crops and Products, 44, 413–420.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Laroussi, M. (2005). Low temperature plasma-based sterilization: overview and state-of-the-art. Plasma Processes and Polymers, 2(5), 391–400.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Ma, R. N., Wang, G. M., Tian, Y., Wang, K. L., Zhang, J., & Fang, J. (2015). Non-thermal plasma-activated water inactivation of foodborne pathogen on fresh produce. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 300, 643–651.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Ma, R., Yu, S., Tian, Y., Wang, K., Sun, C., Li, X., Zhang, J., Chen, K., & Fang, J. (2016). Effect of non-thermal plasma-activated water on fruit decay and quality in postharvest Chinese bayberries. Food and Bioprocess Technology, 9(11), 1825–1834.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Oms-Oliu, G., Soliva-Fortuny, R., & Martín-Belloso, O. (2008). Physiological and microbiological changes in fresh-cut pears stored in high oxygen active packages compared with low oxygen active and passive modified atmosphere packaging. Postharvest Biology and Technology, 48(2), 295–301.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Pérez-Gregorio, M. R., González-Barreiro, C., Rial-Otero, R., & Simal-Gándara, J. (2011). Comparison of sanitizing technologies on the quality appearance and antioxidant levels in onion slices. Food Control, 22, 2052–2058.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Piga, A., D’Aquino, S., Agabbio, M., Emonti, G., & Farris, G. A. (2000). Influence of storage temperature on shelf-life of minimally processed cactus pear fruits. LWT--Food Science and Technology, 33(1), 15–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Ramazzina, I., Berardinelli, A., Rizzi, F., Tappi, S., Ragni, L., Sacchetti, G., & Rocculi, P. (2015). Effect of cold plasma treatment on physico-chemical parameters and antioxidant activity of minimally processed kiwifruit. Postharvest Biology and Technology, 107, 55–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Ramazzina, I., Tappi, S., Rocculi, P., Sacchetti, G., Berardinelli, A., Marseglia, A., & Rizzi, F. (2016). Effect of cold plasma treatment on the functional properties of fresh-cut apples. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 64(42), 8010–8018.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Sarangapani, C., O’Toole, G., Cullen, P. J., & Bourke, P. (2017). Atmospheric cold plasma dissipation efficiency of agrochemicals on blueberries. Innovative Food Science and Emerging Technologies, 44, 235–241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Schnabel, U., Andrasch, M., Stachowiak, J., Weit, C., Weihe, T., Schmidt, C., Muranyi, P., Schlüter, O., & Ehlbeck, J. (2017). Sanitation of fresh-cut endive lettuce by plasma processed tap water (PPtW)-up-scaling to industrial level. Innovative Food Science and Emerging Technologies, 53, 45–55. Scholar
  21. Sharma, S., & Rao, T. V. R. (2015). Xanthan gum based edible coating enriched with cinnamic acid prevents browning and extends the shelf-life of fresh-cut pears. LWT--Food Science and Technology, 62(1), 791–800.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Singleton, V. L., & Rossi, J. A. (1965). Colourimetry of total phenolics with phosphomolybdic–phosphotungstic acid reagents. American Journal of Enology and Viticulture, 16, 144–158.Google Scholar
  23. Surowsky, B., Schlüter, O., & Knorr, D. (2015). Interactions of non-thermal atmospheric pressure plasma with solid and liquid food systems: a review. Food Engineering Reviews, 7, 1–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Tappi, S., Berardinelli, A., Ragni, L., Rosa, M. D., Guarnieri, A., & Rocculi, P. (2014). Atmospheric gas plasma treatment of fresh-cut apples. Innovative Food Science and Emerging Technologies, 21(4), 114–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Tappi, S., Gozzi, G., Vannini, L., Berardinelli, A., Romani, S., Ragni, L., & Rocculi, P. (2016). Cold plasma treatment for fresh-cut melon stabilization. Innovative Food Science and Emerging Technologies, 33, 225–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Tiwari, B. K., Muthukumarappan, K., O’Donnell, C. P., & Cullen, P. (2008). Kinetics of freshly squeezed orange juice quality changes during ozone processing. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 56(15), 6416–6422.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Ukuku, D. O., Geveke, D. J., Chau, L., Bigley, A., & Niemira, B. A. (2017). Appearance and overall acceptability of fresh-cut cantaloupe pieces from whole melon treated with wet steam process. LWT--Food Science and Technology, 82, 235–242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Wang, R. X., Nian, W. F., Wu, H. Y., Feng, H. Q., Zhang, K., Zhang, J., Zhu, W. D., Becker, K. H., & Fang, J. (2012). Atmospheric-pressure cold plasma treatment of contaminated fresh fruit and vegetable slices: inactivation and physiochemical properties evaluation. European Physical Journal D, 66(10), 276.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Won, M. Y., Lee, S. J., & Min, S. C. (2017). Mandarin preservation by microwave-powered cold plasma treatment. Innovative Food Science and Emerging Technologies, 39, 25–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Xie, P., You, F., Huang, L., & Zhang, C. (2017). Comprehensive assessment of phenolic compounds and antioxidant performance in the developmental process of jujube (Ziziphus jujube Mill.). Journal of Functional Foods, 36, 233–242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Xu, Q., Xing, Y., Che, Z., Guan, T., Liang, Z., Bai, Y., & Dong, L. (2013). Effect of chitosan coating and oil fumigation on the microbiological and quality safety of fresh-cut pear. Journal of Food Safety, 33(2), 179–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Xu, Y., Tian, Y., Ma, R., Liu, Q., & Zhang, J. (2016). Effect of plasma activated water on the postharvest quality of button mushrooms, Agaricus bisporus. Food Chemistry, 197, 436–444.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Yu, H., Neal, J. A., & Sirsat, S. A. (2018). Consumers’ food safety risk perceptions and willingness to pay for fresh-cut produce with lower risk of foodborne illness. Food Control, 86, 83–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Zhang, Q., Liang, Y. D., Feng, H. Q., Ma, R. N., Tian, Y., Zhang, J., & Fang, J. (2013). A study of oxidative stress induced by non-thermal plasma-activated water for bacterial damage. Applied Physics Letters, 102(20), 203701–203704.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Zhou, R., Zhang, X., Bi, Z., Zong, Z., Niu, J., Song, Y., Liu, D., & Yang, S. (2015). Inactivation of Escherichia coli cells in aqueous solution by atmospheric-pressure N2, He, air, and O2 microplasmas. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 81(15), 5257–5265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Zhou, R., Zhou, R., Zhuang, J., Zong, Z., Zhang, X., Liu, D., Bazaka, K., & Ostrikov, K. (2016). Interaction of atmospheric-pressure air microplasmas with amino acids as fundamental processes in aqueous solution. PLoS One, 11(5), e0155584.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Biotechnology and Bioresources Utilization, Ministry of Education, College of Life ScienceDalian Minzu UniversityDalianPeople’s Republic of China

Personalised recommendations