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Reduction of Escherichia coli, as a surrogate for Salmonella spp., on the surface of grapefruit during various packingline processes

Danyluk, Michelle D., Friedrich, Loretta M., Dunn, Laurel L., Zhang, Jiuxu, Ritenour, Mark A.
Food microbiology 2019 v.78 pp. 188-193
Citrus, Escherichia coli, Salmonella, decontamination, detection limit, fruits, grapefruits, produce safety, washing, United States
The US Produce Safety Rule allows for use of water that does not meet its microbial standards if corrective measures are employed. This research was initiated to determine the suitability of nonpathogenic Escherichia coli as a surrogate for Salmonella during citrus washing, and to evaluate the removal of E. coli from grapefruit on two pilot packinglines (CREC and IRREC) as corrective measures. Whole grapefruit were inoculated with either E. coli or Salmonella and dried, and exposed to a variety of treatments on a lab-scale brush wash system. Individual processes were evaluated on the pilot packinglines with E. coli only. In all lab-scale brush wash system treatments, bacterial population reductions between E. coli and Salmonella were not significantly different (P ≤ 0.05). On pilot packinglines, E. coli populations were reduced by 3.59 to >5.11 log CFU/grapefruit at the CREC packingline, and by 3.30 to >5.13 log CFU/grapefruit at the IRREC packingline. Treatment of fruit through complete packingline processing at both locations reduced E. coli populations to levels below the detection limit (<1 log CFU/grapefruit). The studies indicate E. coli is an appropriate surrogate for Salmonella under tested conditions, and that standard citrus packingline processes can be used as a corrective measure.