The present work evaluates the performance of ultrasound based sterilization approaches for processing of different fruit and vegetable juices in terms of microbial growth and changes in the quality parameters during the storage. Comparison with the conventional thermal processing has also been presented. A novel approach based on combination of ultrasound with ultraviolet irradiation and crude extract of essential oil from orange peels has been used for the first time. Identification of the microbial growth (total bacteria and yeast content) in the juices during the subsequent storage and assessing the safety for human consumption along with the changes in the quality parameters (Brix, titratable acidity, pH, ORP, salt, conductivity, TSS and TDS) has been investigated in details. The optimized ultrasound parameters for juice sterilization were established as ultrasound power of 100W and treatment time of 15min for the constant frequency operation (20kHz). It has been established that more than 5log reduction was achieved using the novel combined approaches based on ultrasound. The treated juices using different approaches based on ultrasound also showed lower microbial growth and improved quality characteristics as compared to the thermally processed juice. Scale up studies were also performed using spinach juice as the test sample with processing at 5L volume for the first time. The ultrasound treated juice satisfied the microbiological and physiochemical safety limits in refrigerated storage conditions for 20days for the large scale processing. Overall the present work conclusively established the usefulness of combined treatment approaches based on ultrasound for maintaining the microbiological safety of beverages with enhanced shelf life and excellent quality parameters as compared to the untreated and thermally processed juices.
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