ABSTRACT

Hass avocados may become contaminated with Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes at the farm and the packing facility or later during transportation and at retail. In Mexico, avocados are frequently sold in bulk at retail markets, where they are stored at room temperature for several hours or days and exposed to potential sources of microorganisms. These conditions may favor the entry, adhesion, survival, and biofilm formation of Salmonella and L. monocytogenes. The aim of this study was to determine the occurrence of Salmonella, L. monocytogenes, and other Listeria species and the levels of indicator microorganisms on the surface of avocados sold at retail markets. A total of 450 samples (Persea americana var. Hass) were acquired from retail markets located in Guadalajara, Mexico. One group of 225 samples was evaluated for the presence of Salmonella and for enumeration of aerobic plate counts, yeasts and molds, Enterobacteriaceae, coliforms, and Escherichia coli. The other 225 samples were processed for isolation of L. monocytogenes and other Listeria species. Microbial counts (log CFU per avocado) were 4.3 to 9.0 for aerobic plate counts, 3.3 to 7.1 for yeasts and molds, 3.3 to 8.2 for Enterobacteriaceae, 3.3 to 8.4 for coliforms, and 3.3 to 6.2 for E. coli. Eight samples (3.5%) were positive for Salmonella. Listeria spp. and L. monocytogenes were detected in 31 (13.8%) and 18 (8.0%) of 225 samples, respectively. Listeria innocua, Listeria welshimeri, and Listeria grayi were isolated from 7.6, 1.3, and 0.9% of samples. These results indicate that avocados may carry countable levels of microorganisms and could be a vehicle for transmission of Salmonella and L. monocytogenes.

HIGHLIGHTS
  • Avocados sold in retail markets in Mexico contain countable levels of microorganisms.

  • Salmonella and L. monocytogenes were isolated from the surface of retail Hass avocados.

  • Salmonella was isolated from the surface of Hass avocados in the absence of E. coli.

  • L. monocytogenes and L. innocua were isolated more frequently than other Listeria species.

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