Recovery of Salmonella from Steam and Ethylene Oxide-Treated Spices Using Supplemented Agar with Overlay
Caver, Christopher Branden
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Salmonella enterica has been associated with several outbreaks due to consumption of low water activity foods including spices. Consequently, to improve microbiological quality, spices are commonly treated before ultimately reaching consumers. These processes may result in sub-lethal injury to cells, which can lead to an underestimation of microbial populations when plating on selective media. Sub-lethally injured cells are difficult to enumerate due to reduced ability to grow on selective microbiological media. Poor recovery of sub-lethally-injured cells may obscure process validation results and lead to overestimation of process effect. Therefore, this work was performed to determine the influence of agar overlay and media supplementation methods on the recovery of Salmonella from steam and ethylene oxide treated peppercorns and cumin seeds. Traditional agar overlay allowed recovery of significantly more Salmonella (p < 0.05) from inoculated peppercorns treated with steam (65.5C, 15 sec.) than selective media (XLT4) or solid agar overlay. Additional supplementation of the TSA base to contain 3,3'-thiodipropionic acid further improved Salmonella recovery from steam treated peppercorns (p < 0.05). For peppercorns and cumin seeds subjected to ethylene oxide, neither sodium pyruvate + yeast extract, 3,3'-thiodipropionic acid, glycerophosphate, ATP, nor magnesium enhanced recovery compared to overlay alone but both methods recovered significantly higher numbers than XLT-4 alone (p < 0.05) for both cumin seeds and peppercorns.
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