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Effect of Native Microflora, Waiting Period, and Storage Temperature on Listeria monocytogenes Serovars Transferred from Cantaloupe Rind to Fresh-Cut Pieces during Preparation

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Abstract:

The most recent outbreak of listeriosis linked to consumption of fresh-cut cantaloupes indicates the need to investigate the behavior of Listeria monocytogenes in the presence of native microflora of cantaloupe pieces during storage. Whole cantaloupes were inoculated with L. monocytogenes (108-CFU/ml suspension) for 10 min and air dried in a biosafety cabinet for 1 h and then treated (unwashed, water washed, and 2.5% hydrogen peroxide washed). Fresh-cut pieces (∼3 cm) prepared from these melons were left at 5 and 10°C for 72 h and room temperature (20°C) for 48 h. Some fresh-cut pieces were left at 20°C for 2 and 4 h and then refrigerated at 5°C. Microbial populations of fresh-cut pieces were determined by the plate count method or enrichment method immediately after preparation. Aerobic mesophilic bacteria, yeast and mold of whole melon, and inoculated populations of L. monocytogenes on cantaloupe rind surfaces averaged 6.4, 3.3, and 4.6 log CFU/cm2, respectively. Only H2O2 (2.5%) treatment reduced the aerobic mesophilic bacteria, yeast and mold, and L. monocytogenes populations to 3.8, 0.9, and 1.8 log CFU/cm2, respectively. The populations of L. monocytogenes transferred from melon rinds to fresh-cut pieces were below detection but were present by enrichment. Increased storage temperatures enhanced the lag phases and growth of L. monocytogenes. The results of this study confirmed the need to store fresh-cut cantaloupes at 5°C immediately after preparation to enhance the microbial safety of the fruit.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-12-191

Affiliations: 1: Food Safety and Intervention Technologies Research Unit, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Eastern Regional Research Center, 600 East Mermaid Lane, Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania 19038, USA. dike.ukuku@ars.usda.gov 2: Food Safety and Intervention Technologies Research Unit, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Eastern Regional Research Center, 600 East Mermaid Lane, Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania 19038, USA

Publication date: 2012-11-01

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