There are numerous obstacles to the detection of foodborne pathogens in foods that exhibit a low water activity (aw). These obstacles include the presence of antimicrobial compounds, particulates, PCR inhibitors, and fatty matrices. New approaches should be sought to increase the sensitivity of pathogen testing in low-aw foods and to overcome the effects of various inhibitors and antimicrobials. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other laboratories are working toward this goal. This review will address these issues while delineating specific inhibitors and antimicrobials that impede testing of low-aw foods. A review of relevant rapid and conventional testing methodologies for Salmonella in low-aw foods will also be discussed.

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