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Microbiological quality of fresh produce obtained from retail stores on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, United States of America

Korir, Robert Cheruiyot, Parveen, Salina, Hashem, Fawzy, Bowers, John
Food microbiology 2016 v.56 pp. 29-34
Escherichia coli O157, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella, aerobes, basil, cilantro, coliform bacteria, detection limit, fresh produce, green onions, lettuce, microbiological quality, parsley, polymerase chain reaction, spinach, spoilage, Maryland
The aim of this study was to investigate the microbiological quality of six types of fresh produce obtained from three retail stores located on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, USA. A total of 414 samples representing basil, cilantro, lettuce, scallion, spinach, and parsley were analyzed for total aerobic bacteria (APC), total coliforms, Escherichia coli, and three pathogenic bacteria (E. coli O157:H7, Listeria monocytogenes, and Salmonella), using standard methods. Presumptive pathogenic isolates were confirmed using BAX Polymerase Chain Reaction. Total aerobic populations varied widely between samples, while 38.41% were positive for total coliforms and only 10.15% for E. coli. Median abundance (log CFU/g) of total coliforms and E. coli were less than the limit of detection and that of APC ranged from 5.78 to 6.61 over the six produce types. There was a statistically significant difference in prevalence of total coliforms among the retail stores, but not for abundance of APC or prevalence of E. coli. E. coli O157:H7 and L. monocytogenes were detected in one spinach sample each, while one parsley and one cilantro sample were positive for Salmonella. There were no statistically significant differences in microbiological quality among produce types. Although the results of this study provided some indices of sanitary and/or spoilage level, no relationship was observed among the total aerobic bacteria, total coliforms, E. coli, and the presence of pathogenic bacteria in the samples tested.