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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Environmental Microbial & Food Safety Laboratory » Research » Research Project #431187

Research Project: Natural and Environment-Friendly Approaches for Improving the Microbiological Safety of Cantaloupes

Location: Environmental Microbial & Food Safety Laboratory

Project Number: 8042-32420-006-26-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2016
End Date: Aug 31, 2017

Although cantaloupes have been implicated in sporadic outbreaks of foodborne diseases in humans in the past, recently the fruit has been increasingly linked to large, multi-state outbreaks resulting in severe morbidity and mortality. These outbreaks highlight the emerging role of cantaloupes as a vehicle of foodborne pathogens, and justify the need for effective and practical decontamination procedures to prevent human infections. A variety of FDA-approved disinfectants, including quaternary ammonium compounds and hypochlorite have been evaluated for cantaloupe washing treatments, but are found to be ineffective in killing pathogen on cantaloupe surface. ARS is interested in pre-harvest and post-harvest sources of contaminations in fresh produce and intervention strategies to reduce foodborne pathogens at farm-to-fork level. Our goal of this proposal is to investigate the antimicrobial potential of lactic acid bacteria (LAB) as a biocontrol applied at pre- and post-harvest levels for controlling Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella on cantaloupes. Co-operator has extensive experience in biocontrols for controlling pathogens in foods.

Lactobacillus plantarum and Lactobacillus lactis strains have reduced L. monocytogenes on cantaloupe surfaces. ARS will grow cantaloupe in high tunnel using good agricultural practices. Cantaloupe on vines will be surface inoculated with attenuated strains of Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella and then sprayed with different concentrations of lactic acid bacteria (LAB). Treated cantaloupe will be harvested periodically for analyzing surviving populations of L. monocytogenes and Salmonella to determine antimicrobial efficacy of lactic acid bacteria. Effect of LAB for inactivating L. monocytogenes and Salmonella (surrogate strains) applied as a spray on cantaloupes in the field. Co-operator will conduct research on 1) Efficacy of LAB as a post-harvest washing treatment for reducing L. monocytogenes, Salmonella and Shiga-toxigenic E. coli on cantaloupes ,3) Role of LAB in reducing biofilms of L. monocytogenes, Salmonella and Shiga-toxigenic E. coli on cantaloupes.