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Int J Food Microbiol. 2006 Dec 1;112(3):253-60. Epub 2006 Jul 5.

Eggshell factors influencing eggshell penetration and whole egg contamination by different bacteria, including Salmonella enteritidis.

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Department of Animal Product Quality and Transformation Technology, Agricultural Research Centre-Ghent, Ministry of the Flemish Community, Brusselsesteenweg 370, 9090 Melle, Belgium.


Trans-shell infection routes and whole egg contamination of 7 selected bacterial strains; Staphylococcus warneri, Acinetobacter baumannii, Alcaligenes sp., Serratia marcescens, Carnobacterium sp., Pseudomonas sp. and Salmonella enteritidis, recovered from egg contents, were studied. The first objective was to correlate bacterial eggshell penetration with various eggshell characteristics and bacterial strains. An agar approach was used to assess the eggshell penetration. The second objective was to assess the contamination of whole eggs with the bacterial strains; whole intact eggs were used in this case. The intact shells of agar-filled and whole eggs were inoculated with 10(3) -10(4) cfu of the selected strains. During 3 weeks storage at 20 degrees C and 60% relative humidity, the bacterial eggshell penetration was regularly monitored. The whole egg contamination was only analyzed after 3 weeks. The eggshell characteristics such as area eggshell, shell thickness and number of pores did not influence the bacterial eggshell penetration. For each individual bacterial strain the mean cuticle deposition was lower for penetrated compared to non-penetrated eggshells. For the individual strain Carnobacterium sp. and for the global results of all strains this difference was statistical significantly. The whole egg contamination was not influenced by neither the area of the eggshell nor the porosity of the eggshell. The results of the agar approach indicate that the Gram-negative, motile and non-clustering bacteria penetrated the eggshell most frequently; Pseudomonas sp. (60%) and Alcaligenes sp. (58%) were primary invaders followed by S. enteritidis (43%). All selected strains were able to penetrate; penetration was observed most frequently after ca. 4-5 days. Particularly S. enteritidis was a primary invader of whole eggs: the membranes and/or the content of 32% of the whole eggs was contaminated. The remaining bacterial eggshell contamination with the selected strain was determined after 3 weeks storage. Penetrated eggshells and contaminated whole eggs showed a significantly higher bacterial contamination on the eggshell compared to non-penetrated eggshells and non-contaminated whole eggs respectively (global results of all strains). The influence of hen age on bacterial eggshell penetration and egg content contamination was not significant. While the agar approach is suitable to study the influence of the eggshell characteristics on the bacterial eggshell penetration, the intact egg approach gives an estimation of the penetration of the shell followed by the probability of survival and migration in whole eggs.

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