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Impact of Almond Moisture, Almond Cultivar and Salmonella Serovar on the Desiccation, Persistence and Heat Resistance of Salmonella in Almonds

Investigators
Harris, Linda
Institutions
University of California - Davis
Start date
2009
End date
2011
Objective
Nuts and other low-moisture foods have generally been considered low-risks for foodborne illness because they are consumed in a dry state where water activity (available moisture) is too low to support microbial growth. However, it is increasingly recognized that many foodborne pathogens can cause illness at very low concentrations, such that microbial growth is not required.

Since 2001, three outbreaks of salmonellosis associated with consumption of raw almonds have been documented. Since that time significant advances have been made in understanding the ecology of Salmonella in the almond production and processing environment.

Much of the work has been done with Salmonella Enteritidis Phage Type 30, the strain associated with a 2000-2001 outbreak and with a single almond cultivar. Although moisture levels are known to impact survival of Salmonella during thermal processing, a systematic evaluation of raw almond moisture that occurs in practice (3 to 8%) and heat resistance of Salmonella has not been made.

The objectives of the study are 1) to determine the impact of almond moisture and cultivar on the heat sensitivity of Salmonella Enteritidis PT30 inoculated onto almonds; and 2) to evaluate differences in desiccation, storage and heat sensitivity among different Salmonella isolates.

The results of this study will provide a database of information on the storage, heat and drying resistance of Salmonella serovars on almonds.

This information will enhance confidence in thermal validation studies and the risk assessment for almonds that are based on S. Enteritidis PT 30 and should provide a standardized protocol for evaluating potential surrogates for use in these types of studies.

Funding Source
Center for Produce Safety
Project number
2009-82
Categories
Natural Toxins
Bacterial Pathogens
Sanitation and Quality Standards
Commodities
Nuts, Seeds