Skip to main content

Transfer of Escherichia coli O157:H7 from Equipment Surfaces to Fresh-Cut Leafy Greens during Processing in a Model Pilot-Plant Production Line with Sanitizer-Free Water

Buy Article:

$37.00 plus tax (Refund Policy)


Escherichia coli O157:H7 contamination of fresh-cut leafy greens has become a public health concern as a result of several large outbreaks. The goal of this study was to generate baseline data for E. coli O157:H7 transfer from product-inoculated equipment surfaces to uninoculated lettuce during pilot-scale processing without a sanitizer. Uninoculated cored heads of iceberg and romaine lettuce (22.7 kg) were processed using a commercial shredder, step conveyor, 3.3-m flume tank with sanitizer-free tap water, shaker table, and centrifugal dryer, followed by 22.7 kg of product that had been dip inoculated to contain ∼106, 104, or 102 CFU/g of a four-strain avirulent, green fluorescent protein–labeled, ampicillin-resistant E. coli O157:H7 cocktail. After draining the flume tank and refilling the holding tank with tap water, 90.8 kg of uninoculated product was similarly processed and collected in ∼5-kg aliquots. After processing, 42 equipment surface samples and 46 iceberg or 36 romaine lettuce samples (25 g each) from the collection baskets were quantitatively examined for E. coli O157:H7 by direct plating or membrane filtration using tryptic soy agar containing 0.6% yeast extract and 100 ppm of ampicillin. Initially, the greatest E. coli O157:H7 transfer was seen from inoculated lettuce to the shredder and conveyor belt, with all equipment surface populations decreasing 90 to 99% after processing 90.8 kg of uncontaminated product. After processing lettuce containing 106 or 104 E. coli O157:H7 CFU/g followed by uninoculated lettuce, E. coli O157:H7 was quantifiable throughout the entire 90.8 kg of product. At an inoculation level of 102 CFU/g, E. coli O157:H7 was consistently detected in the first 21.2 kg of previously uninoculated lettuce at 2 to 3 log CFU/100 g and transferred to 78 kg of product. These baseline E. coli O157:H7 transfer results will help determine the degree of sanitizer efficacy required to better ensure the safety of fresh-cut leafy greens.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48824, USA 2: Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48824, USA 3: Department of Advertising, Public Relations and Retailing, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48824, USA 4: Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48824, USA.

Publication date: November 1, 2012

More about this publication?
  • IAFP Members with personal subscriptions to JFP Online: To access full-text JFP or JMFT articles, you must sign-in in the upper-right corner using your Ingenta sign-in details (your IAFP Member Login does not apply to this website).

    The Journal of Food Protection (JFP) 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.

    Print and online subscriptions are available to IAFP Members and institutional subscribers. IAFP Members with a subscription to JFP Online will have access to all available JFP and JMFT content. Online visitors who are not IAFP Members or journal subscribers will be charged on a pay-per-view basis. Membership and subscription information is available at
  • Information for Authors
  • Submit a Paper
  • Subscribe to this Title
  • Membership Information
  • Information for Advertisers
  • Ingenta Connect is not responsible for the content or availability of external websites

Access Key

Free Content
Free content
New Content
New content
Open Access Content
Open access content
Partial Open Access Content
Partial Open access content
Subscribed Content
Subscribed content
Free Trial Content
Free trial content
Cookie Policy
Cookie Policy
Ingenta Connect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more