High pressure processing (HPP) has been shown to be an effective non-thermal method of eliminating non-spore forming bacteria from a variety of food products. The shelf-life of the products is extended and the sensory features of the food are not or only minimally effected by HPP. The present study examined the effects of HPP using a commercial scale unit on the viability of Toxoplasma gondii oocysts. Oocysts were exposed from 100 to 550 MPa for 1 min in the HPP unit and then HPP treated oocysts were orally fed to groups of mice. Oocysts treated with 550 MPa or less did not develop structural alterations when viewed with light microscopy. Oocysts treated with 550 MPa, 480 MPa, 400 Mpa, or 340 MPa were rendered noninfectious for mice. Mice fed oocysts treated with no or 100 to 270 MPa became infected and most developed acute toxoplasmosis and were killed or died 7 to 10 days after infection. These results suggest that HPP technology may be useful in the removal of T. gondii oocysts from food products.
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