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Food Microbiol. 2007 May;24(3):288-95. Epub 2006 May 9.

Effect of time before storage and storage temperature on survival of Salmonella inoculated on fresh-cut melons.

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  • 1Food Safety Intervention Technologies Research Unit, US Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Research Service, Eastern Regional Research Center, 600 East Mermaid Lane, Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania 19038, USA. dukuku@errc.ars.usda.gov

Abstract

The effects of a waiting period at room temperature ( approximately 22 degrees C) before refrigerating fresh-cut watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew pieces contaminated with Salmonella on survival of the inoculated pathogen were investigated. Whole cantaloupes, honeydew melons and watermelons were washed with water, and fresh-cut pieces from individual melons were prepared and inoculated with a five strain cocktail of Salmonella at 10(5)cfu/ml. Populations of aerobic mesophilic bacteria, yeast and mold and Pseudomonas spp. were higher for fresh-cut cantaloupe than for fresh-cut watermelon and honeydew immediately after preparation. Populations of Salmonella, aerobic mesophilic bacteria, yeast and mold and Pseudomonas ssp. in fresh-cut melons left at room temperature for up to 5h before refrigeration were significantly (P<0.05) higher than populations in fresh-cut melons stored at 5 degrees C immediately after preparation. Populations of Salmonella recovered in fresh-cut melon after inoculation with the cocktail of Salmonella strains averaged 2 log(10)cfu/g for all three types of melons. Populations in fresh-cut watermelon and honeydew pieces declined by 1 log when stored immediately at 5 degrees C for 12 days, while the populations in fresh-cut cantaloupe did not show significant (P>0.05) changes. Populations of Salmonella in fresh-cut melons stored immediately at 10 degrees C for 12 days increased significantly (P<0.05) from 2.0 to 3.0 log(10)cfu/g in watermelon, 1.9 to 3.0 log(10)cfu/g in honeydew and 2.0 to 3.6 log(10)cfu/g in cantaloupe pieces. Holding freshly prepared, contaminated fresh-cut melon pieces at 22 degrees C for 3h or more prior to refrigerated storage would increase the chances of Salmonella proliferation, especially if the fresh-cut melons were subsequently stored at an abusive temperature.

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