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Levels of Vibrio vulnificus and Organoleptic Quality of Raw Shellstock Oysters (Crassostrea virginica) Maintained at Different Storage Temperatures

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Temperature abuse during raw oyster harvesting and storage may allow for the multiplication of natural spoilage flora as well as microbial pathogens, thus posing a potential health threat to susceptible consumers and compromising product quality. The objective of this study was to provide a scientific basis for determining whether different refrigeration and abuse temperatures for raw oysters would result in a spoiled product before it became unsafe. Raw shellstock oysters (Crassostrea virginica) purchased from a commercial Virginia processor were subjected to different temperature abuse conditions (7, 13, and 21°C) over a 10-day storage period. Salinity, pH, halophilic plate count (HPC), total culturable Vibrio counts, and culturable Vibrio vulnificus counts were determined at each abuse condition. V. vulnificus isolates were confirmed by a specific enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Olfactory analysis was performed to determine consumer acceptability of the oysters at each abuse stage. The pH of the oysters decreased over time in each storage condition. The HPC increased 2 to 4 logs for all storage conditions, while olfactory acceptance decreased over time. V. vulnificus levels increased over time, reaching 105 to 106 CFU/g by day 6. The length of storage had a greater effect on the bacterial counts and olfactory acceptance of the oysters (P < 0.05) over time than did the storage temperature (P < 0.05).


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Food Science and Technology, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia 24061-0418, USA 2: College of Agriculture, Forestry, and Consumer Sciences, WV Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, West Virginia University, 1170 Agricultural Sciences Building, P.O. Box 6108, Morgantown, West Virginia 26506-6108, USA

Publication date: 2001-11-01

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