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Survival and Growth of Salmonella in High-Moisture Pecan Nutmeats, In-Shell Pecans, Inedible Nut Components, and Orchard Soil

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Outbreaks of salmonellosis associated with almonds have raised interest in better understanding the behavior of Salmonella on other tree nuts. We undertook a study to determine the survival and growth characteristics of Salmonella on high-moisture (water activity of 0.96 to 0.99) pecan nutmeats, in-shell pecans, and inedible components (shuck, shell, and middle septum tissue) of in-shell pecans. Salmonella did not grow on high-moisture nutmeat halves, pieces, or granules stored at 4°C for up to 48 h. Growth did occur, however, at 21, 30, and 37°C. Increases of 1.77 to 5.87 log CFU/g of nutmeats occurred within 48 h at 37°C; the order in which nutmeats supported growth was granules > pieces > halves. Populations of Salmonella on and in high-moisture in-shell pecans (kernel water activity of 0.94) stored at 4, 21, 30, and 37°C for 8 days decreased by 0.52 to 1.19 log CFU/g. The pathogen grew on the surface of high-moisture (water activity of 0.99) pecan shucks and shells but died on middle septum tissue stored at 21, 30, and 37°C for up to 6 days. Salmonella died in water extracts of shucks and in pecan orchard soil saturated with water or shuck extract, but survived well for at least 18 weeks in dry soil. The ability of the pathogen to grow on high-moisture nutmeats and some of the inedible components of pecans emphasizes the importance of controlling or limiting the time pecans are exposed to water in preharvest and postharvest environments.

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: November 1, 2010

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    First published in 1937, the Journal of Food Protection®, is a refereed monthly publication. Each issue contains scientific research and authoritative review articles reporting on a variety of topics in food science pertaining to food safety and quality. The Journal is internationally recognized as the leading publication in the field of food microbiology with a readership exceeding 11,000 scientists from 70 countries. The Journal of Food Protection® is indexed in Index Medicus, Current Contents, BIOSIS, PubMed, Medline, and many others.

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