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Transfer of Salmonella and Campylobacter from Stainless Steel to Romaine Lettuce

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The degree of transfer of Campylobacter jejuni and Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium was evaluated from a stainless steel contact surface to a ready-to-eat food (lettuce). Stainless steel coupons (25 cm2) were inoculated with a 20-μl drop of either C. jejuni or Salmonella Typhimurium to provide an inoculum level of ~106 CFU/28 mm2. Wet and dry lettuce (Lactuca sativa var. longifolia) pieces (9 cm2) were placed onto the inoculated stainless steel surface for 10 s after the designated inoculum drying time (0 to 80 min for C. jejuni; 0 to 120 min for Salmonella Typhimurium), which was followed by the recovery and enumeration of transferred pathogens (lettuce) and residual surface pathogens (stainless steel coupons). For transfers of Salmonella Typhimurium to dry lettuce, there was an increase from 36 to 66% in the percent transfer of the initial inoculum load during the first 60 min of sampling and then a precipitous drop from 66 to 6% in percent transfer. The transfer of Salmonella Typhimurium to wet lettuce ranged from 23 to 31%, with no statistically significant difference between recoveries over the entire 120-min sampling period. For C. jejuni, the mean percent transfer ranged from 16 to 38% for dry lettuce and from 15 to 27% for wet lettuce during the 80-min sampling period. The results of this study indicate that relatively high numbers of bacteria may be transferred to a food even 1 to 2 h after surface contamination. These findings can be used to support future projects aimed at estimating the degree of risk associated with poor handling practices of ready-to-eat foods.


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Poultry Science, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina 27695-7608, USA 2: Department of Food Science, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina 27695-7608, USA

Publication date: December 1, 2003

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