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J Food Prot. 2001 Sep;64(9):1328-33.

Location of Escherichia coli O157:H7 on and in apples as affected by bruising, washing, and rubbing.

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  • 1Center for Food Safety and Department of Food Science and Technology, University of Georgia, Griffin 30223-1797, USA.


Confocal scanning laser microscopy (CSLM) was used to determine the location of Escherichia coli O157:H7 cells on the surface and in tissue of bruised Red Delicious cv. apples. Undamaged and bruised apples were inoculated by immersing in a suspension of E. coli O157:H7 cells transformed with a plasmid that encodes for the production of a green fluorescent protein. Apples were then washed in 0.1% (wt/vol) peptone water and/or rubbed with a polyester cloth and examined to determine if these treatments removed or introduced cells into lenticels, cutin, and cracks on the skin surface. Optical slices of the apples obtained using CSLM were examined to determine the depth at which colonization or attachment of cells occurred. Populations of E. coli O157:H7 on the surface of apples were determined to assess the effectiveness of washing and rubbing in physically removing cells. The location of cells on or in undamaged and bruised areas of apples that were not washed or rubbed did not differ significantly. However, washing apples resulted in an approximate 2-log reduction in CFU of E. coli O157:H7 per cm2 of apple surface. On unwashed apples, cells were detected at depths up to 30 microm below the surface. No E. coli O157:H7 cells were detected at locations more than 6 microm below the surface of washed apples. Cells that remained on the surface of rubbed apples appeared to be sealed within naturally occurring cracks and crevices in waxy cutin platelets. These cells may be protected from disinfection and subsequently released when apples are eaten or pressed for cider production.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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