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Validation of Enterococcus faecium as a surrogate for Salmonella under different processing conditions for peanuts and pecans

Brar, Pardeepinder K., Danyluk, M.D.
Food microbiology 2019 v.80 pp. 9-17
Enterococcus faecium, Salmonella, air, cold, equipment, food safety, heat treatment, microbiological risk assessment, modernization, pathogens, peanuts, pecans, seeds, shelling, water
Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) Preventive Control rules require nut processors validate thermal processes to ensure a desirable log reduction of Salmonella is achieved. Due to the complex nature of nut and nut products, processes and equipment, it is difficult to use one validation study for all and may requires individual equipment be validated at the plant level. In plant validation studies, pathogens such as Salmonella cannot be used due to the risk of contamination, thus the suitability of a non-pathogenic organism, Enterococcus faecium as a surrogate for Salmonella was evaluated for peanut and pecan thermal processing. Stagnant and forced dry air heating conditions, (120 °C (20, 30, 40 min), 130 °C (10, 20, 30 min), 140 °C (10, 20, 30 min)) were evaluated for unblanched peanut kernels. Oil heating conditions (116 °C, 121 °C, and 127 °C for 0.5, 1.0, 1.5, 2.0, 2.5 min) were evaluated for pecan kernels. Inshell pecans are conditioned in hot or cold water to facilitate the shelling process. Water heating conditions (75 °C (20, 40, 80, 120 s), 80 °C (20, 40, 80, 120 s), 85 °C (20, 40, 80, 120 s), 90 °C (20, 40, 60, 80 s), and 95 °C (20, 40, 60, 80 s)) were evaluated for inshell pecans. Under conditions, except forced air treatment, E. faecium reductions (Log N/N0) were either not significantly different (P > 0.05) or significantly lower than Salmonella (P < 0.05), making it a suitable surrogate for the processes evaluated.