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Inoculation Protocols Influence the Thermal Resistance of Salmonella Enteritidis PT 30 in Fabricated Almond, Wheat, and Date Products

Limcharoenchat, Pichamon, Buchholz, Sarah E., James, Michael K., Hall, Nicole O., Ryser, Elliot T., Marks, Bradley P.
Journal of food protection 2018 v.81 no.4 pp. 606-613
Salmonella Enteritidis, almond butter, almonds, butter, fruits, heat tolerance, inoculation methods, models, pathogens, seeds, water activity, wheat, wheat flour, wheat meal
Inoculation methods in pathogen inactivation studies ideally represent conditions that might occur in real-world scenarios. Surface contamination in or on low-moisture foods affects Salmonella thermal resistance, which is critically important for process validation applications. The objective of this study was to quantify the effect of inoculation protocol on the thermal resistance of Salmonella Enteritidis PT 30 in fabricated low-moisture foods. Almond meal, almond butter, wheat meal, wheat flour, and date paste were inoculated via prefabrication and postfabrication protocols. In the prefabrication protocol, kernels and fruits were surface inoculated and equilibrated to a target water activity (aw) (0.40 for almond and wheat products, 0.45 for date products) before fabricating meal, butter, flour, or paste and then reequilibrating the samples to the target aw. In the postfabrication protocol, meal, butter, flour, and paste were fabricated before inoculation and equilibration. All inoculated and equilibrated samples were subjected to isothermal treatment (80°C), pulled sequentially during processing, cooled, serially diluted, and plated to enumerate survivors. Log-linear and Weibull-type models were fit to the Salmonella survivor data and were compared via the corrected Akaike information criterion. Pre- and postfabrication protocols resulted in significant differences (P < 0.05) in Salmonella thermal resistance in all products. Overall, the thermal resistance of Salmonella Enteritidis PT 30 in almond products was greater (P < 0.05) than in wheat products, which was also greater (P < 0.05) than in date paste. Additionally, Salmonella was more thermally resistant in almond products and date paste when inoculated pre- rather than postfabrication; however, the opposite was true for wheat products. These results indicate that the means of inoculation can significantly affect thermal resistance of Salmonella in low-moisture foods.