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PCR Identification of Salmonella: Potential Contamination Sources from Production and Postharvest Handling of Cantaloupes

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Salmonella is one of the most frequently reported etiological agents in outbreaks of foodborne diseases associated with the consumption of cantaloupes. Sensitive and reliable methods for detecting and identifying foodborne microorganisms are needed. The PCR can be used to amplify specific DNA fragments and thus to detect and identify pathogenic bacteria. In this study, a PCR method was used to evaluate the incidence of Salmonella at cantaloupe production, harvest, and packaging steps, and the results were compared with those of the standard method for detection of Salmonella in foods (Mexican NOM-114-SSA1-1994). Salmonella was detected by both standard and PCR methods in 23.5% of the irrigation water samples but only by the PCR method in 9.1% of the groundwater samples, 4.8% of the chlorinated water samples, 16.7% of samples from the hands of packing workers, 20.6% of samples from the packed cantaloupes, and 25.7% of samples from the in-field cantaloupes. With the standard method, Salmonella was found in 8.3% of the crop soil samples. Statistical analysis indicated a significant difference in sensitivity (P < 0.05) between the two methods; the PCR method was 4.3 times more sensitive than the standard method. Salmonella was found at seven of the eight points evaluated during the production and postharvest handling of cantaloupe melons.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Coordinación de Tecnología de Alimentos de Origen Vegetal, Centro de Investigación en Alimentación y Desarrollo, A.C., A.P. 1735, 83000 Hermosillo, Sonora, México 2: Coordinación de Ciencias de los Alimentos, Centro de Investigación en Alimentación y Desarrollo, A.C., A.P. 1735, 83000 Hermosillo, Sonora, México

Publication date: June 1, 2006

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