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Infectivity of Cryptosporidium parvum Oocysts after Storage of Experimentally Contaminated Apples

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Abstract:

Irrigation water and washing water have been inferred to be associated with contamination of fresh fruits and vegetables with pathogenic microorganisms infectious for humans. The objective of the present study was to determine whether apples experimentally contaminated with Cryptosporidium oocysts represent a food safety concern. Laser scanning confocal microscopy revealed no morphological changes in Cryptosporidium parvum oocysts attached to apples after 6 weeks of cold storage, suggesting that oocysts might remain viable and possibly infectious during prolonged storage. Mice were fed apple peels from experimentally contaminated apples to determine whether oocysts had remained infectious on apples stored for 4 weeks. All mice developed cryptosporidiosis. To evaluate the strength of oocyst attachment to apples, washing methods that have been reported to be helpful for recovery of oocysts from various foodstuffs were evaluated, except that the intensity of washing was increased in the present study. None of the tested washing methods succeeded in completely removing oocysts from the apple peel. The most efficient removal (37.5%) was achieved by rigorous manual washing in water with a detergent and by agitation in an orbital shaker with Tris–sodium dodecyl sulfate buffer. Glycine and phosphate-buffered saline buffers had no effect on oocyst removal. Scanning electron microscopy revealed that some oocysts were attached in deep natural crevices in the apple exocarp and others were attached to the smooth surface of the peel. Some oocysts were closely associated with what appeared to be an amorphous substance with which they might have been attached to the apple surface.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, Environmental Microbial & Food Safety Laboratory, 10300 Baltimore Avenue, Building 173, BARC-East, Beltsville, Maryland 20705, USA 2: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, Environmental Microbial & Food Safety Laboratory, 10300 Baltimore Avenue, Building 173, BARC-East, Beltsville, Maryland 20705, USA 3: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Electron & Confocal Microscopy Unit, 10300 Baltimore Avenue, Building 465, BARC-East, Beltsville, Maryland 20705, USA 4: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, Environmental Microbial & Food Safety Laboratory, 10300 Baltimore Avenue, Building 173, BARC-East, Beltsville, Maryland 20705, USA. ronald.fayer@ars.usda.gov

Publication date: 2010-10-01

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