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Growth characteristics of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) stressed by chlorine, sodium chloride, acid, and starvation on lettuce and cantaloupe
- Yoo, Byong Kwon, Liu, Yanhong, Juneja, Vijay, Huang, Lihan, Hwang, Cheng-An
- Food control 2015 v.55 pp. 97-102
- Shiga toxin, Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli, acidity, bacteria, bacterial contamination, cantaloupes, chlorine, food contamination, food pathogens, food processing, fresh produce, lettuce, microbial growth, nutrients, pH, sodium chloride, starvation, t-test, temperature, water activity
- Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) is a major foodborne pathogen causing serious illnesses and hospitalizations in the United States. Bacteria that are exposed to environmental stresses during food processing may exhibit different growth patterns in the subsequent growth environment. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of environmental stresses on the growth of O15H and non-O157 STEC in lettuce or cantaloupe. Strains of O157:H7 and non-O157 STEC (O26:H11, O103:H1, O104:H4, and O145:NM) were subjected to four selected stresses including 2 ppm of chlorine, aw of 0.97 (osmotic stress), and pH 5 (acid stress) at 22 °C for 24 h, or starvation (lack of nutrients) at 22 °C for 15 d. A cocktail mix of stressed or non-stressed (control) O157 or non-O157 at 3 log CFU/g (control or stressed) was inoculated on lettuce or cantaloupe and incubated at 10 and 22 °C for four weeks. While there were significant differences (p < 0.05) in the growth of stressed and unstressed cells of non-O157 STEC, no difference was observed in the growth of stressed and unstressed O157 STEC cells. Osmotic-stressed non-O157 STEC had significantly higher cell populations than control with 2 log difference (9.0 vs. 6.8 log CFU/g) at 10 °C on lettuce and 1 log difference (9.3 vs. 8.3 log CFU/g) at 22 °C on cantaloupe after 4 weeks. Acid-stressed non-O157 STEC had significantly higher cell populations than control at 10 °C after 4 weeks with >1 log difference (7.7 vs. 6.3 log CFU/ml) on cantaloupe. Starvation-stressed non-O157 STEC showed significantly higher cell populations than control with 1 log difference (8.4 vs. 7.2 log CFU/g) at 22 °C on cantaloupe after 4 weeks. The results indicated that osmotic, acid, or starvation stress may enhance the growth of non-O157 STEC on lettuce or cantaloupe and lead to a greater safety risk.