Inactivation of Salmonella and Surrogate Bacteria on Cashews and Macadamia Nuts Exposed to Commercial Propylene Oxide Processing Conditions.

Saunders, T., Wu, J., Williams, R. C., Huang, H., & Ponder, M. A.
417-423 pages
Volume 81
Propylene oxide (PPO), a chemical fumigant, has been validated to reduce Salmonella on bulk almonds but has not been evaluated for other tree nuts. There is a need to identify nonpathogenic surrogate microorganisms whose inactivation is comparable to that of Salmonella to assure effective PPO processing parameters in different packaging configurations without introducing Salmonella into the pasteurization facility. The objective of this research was to compare the reduction of Salmonella and three potential surrogate bacterial strains, Enterococcus faecium ATCC 8459, Pediococcus acidilactici ATCC 8042, or Staphylococcus carnosus ATCC 51365, on cashews and macadamia nuts processed by using PPO. Whole cashews and macadamia nuts were coinoculated with a five-strain cocktail of Salmonella and one surrogate, dried to the original water activity of 0.44 to 0.51 before being packaged in woven polypropylene bags (2.3 kg), and shipped overnight in Styrofoam containers under ambient conditions to a commercial facility for PPO treatment. Salmonella and surrogates were recovered by vigorous shaking in phosphate buffer (1:1, m/v), serial diluted, and plated onto tryptic soy agar with an overlay of xylose lysine Tergitol 4 for Salmonella or mannitol salt agar or bile esculin azide agar for each surrogate. The mean log reductions of Salmonella and each surrogate ( n = 18), within a sample and among all trials (three independent), were compared by using a matched pairs t test. Reduction in log CFU per gram of Salmonella was significantly greater than that of E. faecium on both macadamia nuts (7.3 ± 0.19 versus 6.4 ± 0.31) and cashews (5.4 ± 0.15 versus 5.1 ± 0.25) and significantly greater than P. acidilactici on both nuts (7.8 ± 0.22 versus 6.3 ± 0.33 on macadamia nuts and 4.9 ± 0.22 versus 4.1 ± 0.25 on cashews). Reduction of S. carnosus exceeded that of Salmonella. E. faecium and P. acidilactici may be considered as surrogates for Salmonella on whole macadamia nuts and cashews processed by using PPO.