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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2012 Mar;78(6):1675-81. doi: 10.1128/AEM.07304-11. Epub 2012 Jan 13.

Development and validation of a predictive model for the growth of Vibrio vulnificus in postharvest shellstock oysters.

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  • 1Department of Agriculture, Food and Resource Sciences, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Princess Anne, Maryland, USA.


Postharvest growth of Vibrio vulnificus in oysters can increase risk of human infection. Unfortunately, limited information is available regarding V. vulnificus growth and survival patterns over a wide range of storage temperatures in oysters harvested from different estuaries and in different oyster species. In this study, we developed a predictive model for V. vulnificus growth in Eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica) harvested from Chesapeake Bay, MD, over a temperature range of 5 to 30°C and then validated the model against V. vulnificus growth rates (GRs) in Eastern and Asian oysters (Crassostrea ariakensis) harvested from Mobile Bay, AL, and Chesapeake Bay, VA, respectively. In the model development studies, V. vulnificus was slowly inactivated at 5 and 10°C with average GRs of -0.0045 and -0.0043 log most probable number (MPN)/h, respectively. Estimated average growth rates at 15, 20, 25, and 30°C were 0.022, 0.042, 0.087, and 0.093 log MPN/h, respectively. With respect to Eastern oysters, bias (B(f)) and accuracy (A(f)) factors for model-dependent and -independent data were 1.02 and 1.25 and 1.67 and 1.98, respectively. For Asian oysters, B(f) and A(f) were 0.29 and 3.40. Residual variations in growth rate about the fitted model were not explained by season, region, water temperature, or salinity at harvest. Growth rate estimates for Chesapeake Bay and Mobile Bay oysters stored at 25 and 30°C showed relatively high variability and were lower than Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO)/WHO V. vulnificus quantitative risk assessment model predictions. The model provides an improved tool for designing and implementing food safety plans that minimize the risk associated with V. vulnificus in oysters.

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