Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Food Science (PhD)

Degree Level



Food Science


Navam S. Hettiarachchy

Committee Member

Steve Ricke

Second Committee Member

Jack Lay

Third Committee Member

John Marcy

Fourth Committee Member

Andrew Proctor

Fifth Committee Member

Edward Gbur


Biological sciences, Antimicrobials, Food preservation, Food safety


Contamination of poultry products with food borne pathogens is a consistently recurring problem in the United States and the world. Recalls associated with chicken contamination are responsible for considerable economic losses to the poultry industry. Many decontamination steps are currently in place to reduce the likelihood of contaminated products reaching the consumer, but despite these safeguards, contamination events are still uncomfortably frequent. Irradiation is a safe and effective means of ensuring the safety of both ready-to-cook and ready-to-eat poultry but is not utilized in the United States. This is due, in part, to certain irradiation dose-dependent quality characteristic defects associated with irradiated chicken. Irradiation decreases the shelf life of poultry by increasing the rate of lipid oxidation leading to rancid off-flavors and off-odors and causes discoloration of the muscle tissue whereby the muscle appears pink even after cooking. These irradiation-induced defects, the capital costs associated with installing the equipment needed for irradiation treatments, along with a general reluctance on the part of U.S. citizens to purchase irradiated meat and poultry, contribute to unwillingness of U.S. poultry producers to take advantage of irradiation as a decontamination strategy. This dissertation investigates the potential of vacuum-infused organic acids and select plant extracts for use in conjunction with electron beam irradiation at low levels as antimicrobials in a multiple hurdle approach to poultry decontamination and as antioxidants to mitigate the irradiation dose-dependent quality defects. This dissertation also investigates the effect of tartaric acid and grape seed and green tea extracts on the physicochemical properties and consumer perception/acceptance of irradiated chicken breast meat.