Vegetable sanitization protocols recommend the use of chlorine, which has adverse effects on the environment and carcinogenic effects on humans. Acetic acid is an interesting alternative to chlorine because it possesses no risk to human health and is widely available in the form of vinegar. This study aimed to evaluate the sanitizing action of vinegar, 130 g L-1 total titratable acidity expressed as acetic acid, on lettuce. Vinegar was chosen because it is a low-cost product widely available in the Brazilian market. The minimum inhibitory concentration and minimum bactericidal concentration of vinegar against Escherichia coli were 2.5 and 15 g L-1 total acidity, respectively. Lettuce leaves artificially contaminated with E. coli or naturally contaminated with total coliforms were washed with water and immersed in vinegar solution (15 g L-1 total acidity) for 15 min. This period was sufficient to reduce E. coli counts in artificially contaminated samples and total coliforms in naturally contaminated samples. There were no visual changes in lettuce leaves, which indicates that vinegar at 15 g L-1 total acidity can be used to sanitize vegetables without affecting their appearance.
Lactuca sativa; acetic acid; sanitization