Author(s): Wade WN, Vasdinnyei R, Deak T, Beuchat LR
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Abstract Metabiotic associations between food-borne fungi and bacteria capable of causing human diseases are a public health concern. A survey of decayed and damaged, uncooked, ripe tomatoes was done to determine the presence and prevalence of yeasts capable of increasing the pH pulp tissue, thus creating a more favorable environment for survival and growth of enteric pathogens. Sixty-two of the 371 (16.7\%) fungi isolated from 215 decayed or damaged tomatoes; 12 of the 62 (19.4\%) yeasts showed proteolytic activity on gelatin agar (GA) and/or standard methods caseinate (SMC) agar. The pH of tomato pericarp (pulp) tissue from which 9 of the 12 yeasts were isolated ranged from 4.3 to 7.5 (mean=5.3) compared to 4.2-5.1 (mean=4.8) for sound pulp tissue in the same tomatoes. The 12 proteolytic yeasts consisted of four strains of Cryptococcus albidus, two strains each of Debaryomyces hansenii and Trichosporon pullulans, and one strain each of Cryptococcus humicolus, Cryptococcus laurentii, Geotrichum candidum, and Sporidiobolus pararoseus. Survival and growth characteristics of a five-serotype mixture of Salmonella co-inoculated with G. candidum into sound (not chill injured) and chill-injured tomatoes were studied. Storage of sound tomatoes at 15 degrees C for 10 days resulted in an increase in population of 7.6 log(10) cfu of Salmonella/g of a 2-g sample of co-infected pulp tissue. Increases were less in tissue inoculated with Salmonella only, Salmonella on day 0 followed by G. candidum on day 3, or G. candidum on day 0 followed by Salmonella on day 3. Trends were similar in sound inoculated tomatoes stored at 25 degrees C. Growth of Salmonella was enhanced in chill-injured tomatoes compared to sound tomatoes; a population of 10 log(10) cfu/g of chill-injured pulp tissue was reached within 10 days at 25 degrees C. Results clearly show that growth of a proteolytic, alkalinizing yeast such as G. candidum in raw tomatoes enhances conditions for growth of Salmonella. The removal of tomatoes infected with proteolytic yeasts and other fungi from lots intended for minimally processed tomato products is an essential step in reducing the risk of human diseases caused by pathogenic bacteria favored by increased pH of decayed pulp tissue.
This article was published in Int J Food Microbiol
and referenced in Journal of Bacteriology & Parasitology