Ready-to-eat vegetable salads have gained popularity worldwide. However, the microbial safety of these salads is a health concern, primarily due to Salmonella Enteritidis contamination during the growing, harvesting, processing, and handling of produce. In this study, a bacteriophage-based strategy was developed to control Salmonella Enteritidis growth in mixed-ingredient salads. The lytic Salmonella-specific phage SapYZU01 was isolated from a soil sample from a suburban vegetable field in Yangzhou (People's Republic of China). SapYZU01 has a short latent period, a large burst size, and a lytic effect against 13 Salmonella Enteritidis strains isolated from various sources (human samples, pork, deli foods, chickens, and chicken meat). The SapYZU01 genome did not contain virulence or antibiotic resistance genes. SapYZU01 significantly decreased the viability of Salmonella Enteritidis cells in iceberg lettuce, chicken meat, and mixed-ingredient (lettuce plus chicken) salads at 37 and 25°C. Bacterial levels in the salad decreased significantly (by 4.0 log CFU/g) at 25°C after treatment of contaminated lettuce before salad preparation with SapYZU01 at a multiplicity of infection (MOI) of 100. Bacterial levels were decreased by 3.8 log CFU/g at 25°C in lettuce plus chicken salads treated after the salad preparation with SapYZU01 at an MOI of 100. In contrast, treating cooked chicken meat with SapYZU01 at an MOI of 100 before mixing it with contaminated lettuce decreased the bacterial level of the salad by 1.2 log CFU/g at 25°C. These findings indicate the potential application of SapYZU01 as a natural biocontrol agent against Salmonella Enteritidis in mixed-ingredient salads. However, both the treatment method and the bacteriophage MOI must be considered when using this lytic bacteriophage in mixed-ingredient salads.
Bacteriophage SapYZU01 has characteristics that make it suitable for biocontrol applications.
The SapYZU01 genome does not contain virulence or antibiotic resistance genes.
SapYZU01 dose-dependently reduced Salmonella Enteritidis in lettuce and chicken meat.
The method used for SapYZU01 application in mixed-ingredient salads is important.