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Growth and Enterotoxin Production of Staphylococcus aureus in Fresh Packaged Mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus)

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Freshly harvested mushrooms were found to induce a near-anaerobic environment (<2% O2) in unventilated, PVC-overwrapped packages within 2 to 6 h when incubated at 20 to 30°C. Mushrooms were inoculated with an enterotoxigenic strain of Staphylococcus aureus and incubated in overwrapped trays at different temperatures. S. aureus grew and produced staphylococcal enterotoxin (SE) in unventilated PVC-overwrapped mushroom packages when inoculated at levels of 103, 104, and 105 CFU/g of mushroom after 4 days of incubation at 30°C. Growth of S. aureus was observed at all levels of inoculation at 25°C, but no SE was detected after 7 days of incubation. When mushroom packages were ventilated, S. aureus growth was suppressed and no SE was detected after 7 days at 25°C and 4 days at 30°C. However, S. aureus growth in ventilated packs exceeded growth in unventilated packages when the incubation temperature was increased to 35°C; SE was detected within 18 h of incubation at this temperature, even in mushrooms inoculated at a low level (102 CFU/g). These results show the extreme importance of proper sanitation and worker hygiene during mushroom harvesting and packaging, ventilation of fresh mushroom packages, and proper storage temperatures for fresh mushrooms at all points of the food chain.


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Food Science, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802, USA

Publication date: August 1, 1996

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