Fate of Shigella sonnei on Parsley and Methods of Disinfection

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Outbreaks of shigellosis associated with chopped parsley used as a garnish for foods occurred in four states in the United States and in two Canadian provinces in 1998. This prompted a study to determine survival and growth characteristics of Shigella sonnei inoculated onto raw parsley. Two inoculum levels (∼103 and 106 CFU/g) were applied to parsley leaves, portions of which were then chopped. Inoculated whole and chopped parsley leaves were held at 4°C or 21°C for up to 14 days. Initial populations of the organism on chopped parsley receiving high or low levels of inoculum increased by approximately 3 log10 CFU/g, within 1 day at 21°C. Populations of S. sonnei on inoculated chopped or whole parsley leaves held at 4°C decreased by 2.5 to 3.0 log10 CFU/g during a 14-day storage period. The pathogen multiplied, without a lag phase, on inoculated (2.72 log10 CFU/g) chopped parsley held at 21°C, exceeding 6 log10 CFU/g within 24 h. Treatment of inoculated whole parsley leaves with vinegar containing 5.2% (vol/vol) acetic acid or 200 ppm free chlorine for 5 min at 21°C reduced the population of S. sonnei by more than 6 log10 CFU/g, whereas treatment with vinegar containing 7.6% acetic acid or 250 ppm free chlorine reduced initial populations of 7.07 and 7.26 log10 CFU/g, respectively, to undetectable levels (<0.6 log10 CFU/g). These studies revealed that S. sonnei can grow rapidly on chopped parsley held at ambient temperature and remain viable for at least 14 days at 4°C. Treatment of contaminated parsley with vinegar or chlorinated water offers a simple method to reduce markedly or eliminate the pathogen in food-service or home settings.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Center for Food Safety and Quality Enhancement, University of Georgia, 1109 Experiment Street, Griffin, Georgia 30223-1797, USA 2: Foodborne and Diarrheal Diseases Branch, Division of Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Public Health Service, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1600 Clifton Road, Atlanta, Georgia 30333, USA

Publication date: May 1, 2000

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