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Comparison of Sample Preparation Methods for Recovering Salmonella from Raw Fruits, Vegetables, and Herbs

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Methods for preparing raw fruits, vegetables, and herbs for enrichment or direct plating to determine the presence and populations of pathogenic bacteria vary greatly. A study was done to compare three sample processing methods (washing in 0.1% peptone, stomaching, and homogenizing) for their influence on recovery of Salmonella inoculated onto 26 types of raw produce. The mean numbers of Salmonella recovered from 10 fruits, 11 vegetables, and 5 herbs using all three processing methods were 7.17, 7.40, and 7.27 log10 CFU/sample, respectively. Considering all 26 types of produce and all processing methods, the number of Salmonella recovered ranged from 7.24 to 7.29 log10 CFU/sample, with no significant differences attributable to a particular sample processing method. Mean percent recoveries of Salmonella from washed, stomached, and homogenized produce were 39.4, 44.7, and 42.4%, respectively. Mean percent recoveries from fruits, vegetables, and herbs, regardless of sample preparation method, were 41.7, 50.1, and 25.9%, respectively. The number of Salmonella recovered from stomached and homogenized produce, but not washed produce, with pH ≤ 4.53 was significantly less than the number recovered from produce with pH from 5.53 to 5.99, suggesting that the acidic environment in stomachates and homogenates was lethal to a portion of Salmonella. Reduced percent recoveries from herbs (pH 5.94 to 6.34) is attributed, in part, to antimicrobials released from plant cells during sample preparation. Overall, the type of processing method did not substantially affect the number of Salmonella recovered from the 26 types of raw produce representing a wide range of structural and morphological characteristics, composition, and pH. The influence of sample size, diluent composition, and processing time on efficiency of recovery of Salmonella and other pathogens needs to be evaluated before a method(s) for processing samples of raw produce can be recommended.


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Center for Food Safety and Department of Food Science and Technology, University of Georgia, 1109 Experiment Street, Griffin, Georgia 30223-1797, USA

Publication date: October 1, 2001

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