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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Raleigh, North Carolina » Food Science Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #128302


item Fleming, Henry
item Breidt, Frederick

Submitted to: Journal of Food Protection
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/25/2002
Publication Date: 12/1/2002
Citation: Reina, L.D., Fleming, H.P., Breidt, F. 2002. Bacterial contamination of cucumber fruit through adhesion. Journal of Food Protection 65:1881-1887.

Interpretive Summary: Fresh produce is subject to contamination by food pathogenic microorganisms and is a food safety concern to the consuming public. This research demonstrated the importance of times and temperatures of exposure of fresh pickling cucumbers in contaminated water on the ability of three pathogenic species of bacteria to adhere to the cucumbers. The findings indicate that contamination of fresh cucumbers by exposure to these bacteria in water can be reduced by submerging the fruit in colder water (e.g., 5C) for short periods of time (e.g., 5 minutes or less). This information should be useful to these involved in handling procedures for fresh produce, and particularly cucumbers.

Technical Abstract: Adhesion of bacteria to fresh cucumber surfaces from aqueous suspension was shown to be dependent on time of incubation, inoculum species and concentration, and temperature. Bacterial adhesion to the fruit in wash water was lower at low temperatures and shorter exposure times. Various species of bacteria were adsorbed onto the surface of the fruit in the following relative order: Salmonella typhimurium > Staphylococcus aureus > Lactobacillus plantarum > Listeria monocytogenes. Cells were adsorbed at all temperatures tested (5, 15, 25, and 35C), depending on incubation time, but the numbers were higher at higher incubation temperatures. Adhesion of bacteria to dewaxed fruit increased in the case of L. monocytogenes, decreased for S. typhimurium and L. plantarum, and remained the same for S. aureus, as compared to adhesion to the waxed fruit.