Author(s): Leverentz B, Conway WS, Camp MJ, Janisiewicz WJ, Abuladze T,
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Abstract The fresh-cut produce industry has been the fastest-growing portion of the food retail market during the past 10 years, providing consumers with convenient and nutritious food. However, fresh-cut fruits and vegetables raise food safety concerns, because exposed tissue may be colonized more easily by pathogenic bacteria than intact produce. This is due to the higher availability of nutrients on cut surfaces and the greater potential for contamination because of the increased amount of handling. We found that applied Listeria monocytogenes populations survived and increased only slightly on fresh-cut Red Delicious apples stored at 10 degrees C but increased significantly on fresh-cut honeydew melons stored at 10 degrees C over 7 days. In addition, we examined the effect of lytic, L. monocytogenes-specific phages via two phage application methods, spraying and pipetting, on L. monocytogenes populations in artificially contaminated fresh-cut melons and apples. The phage mixture reduced L. monocytogenes populations by 2.0 to 4.6 log units over the control on honeydew melons. On apples, the reduction was below 0.4 log units. In combination with nisin (a bacteriocin), the phage mixture reduced L. monocytogenes populations by up to 5.7 log units on honeydew melon slices and by up to 2.3 log units on apple slices compared to the control. Nisin alone reduced L. monocytogenes populations by up to 3.2 log units on honeydew melon slices and by up to 2.0 log units on apple slices compared to the control. The phage titer was stable on melon slices, but declined rapidly on apple slices. The spray application of the phage and phage plus nisin reduced the bacterial numbers at least as much as the pipette application. The effectiveness of the phage treatment also depended on the initial concentration of L. monocytogenes.
This article was published in Appl Environ Microbiol
and referenced in Journal of Bioprocessing & Biotechniques