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Fate of Escherichia coli O157:H7, Listeria monocytogenes, and Salmonella on fresh-cut celery

Vandamm, Joshua P., Li, Di, Harris, Linda J., Schaffner, Donald W., Danyluk, Michelle D.
Food microbiology 2013 v.34 no.1 pp. 151-157
Escherichia coli O157, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella, bags, celery, pathogens, polyethylene, refrigeration, storage conditions, temperature
Illnesses from Escherichia coli O157:H7, Listeria monocytogenes, and Salmonella have been associated with the consumption of numerous produce items. Little is known about the effect of consumer handling practices on the fate of these pathogens on celery. The objective of this study was to determine pathogen behavior at different temperatures under different storage conditions. Commercial fresh-cut celery was inoculated at ca. 3logCFU/g onto either freshly cut or outer uncut surfaces and stored in either sealed polyethylene bags or closed containers. Samples were enumerated following storage for 0, 1, 3, 5, and 7 days when held at 4 °C or 12 °C, and after 0, 8, and 17 h, and 1, and 2 days when held at 22 °C. At 4 °C, all populations declined by 0.5–1.0logCFU/g over 7 days. At 12 °C, E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella populations did not change, while L. monocytogenes populations increased by ca. 0.5logCFU/g over 7 days. At 22 °C, E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella, and L. monocytogenes populations increased by ca. 1, 2, or 0.3logCFU/g, respectively, with the majority of growth occurring during the first 17 h. On occasion, populations on cut surfaces were significantly higher than those on uncut surfaces. Results indicate that populations are reduced under refrigeration, but survive and may grow at elevated temperatures.