ABSTRACT

Understanding a food's ability to support the growth and/or survival of a pathogen throughout the supply chain is essential to minimizing large-scale contamination events. The purpose of this study was to examine the behavior (growth and/or survival) of Listeria monocytogenes on broccoli and cauliflower florets stored at different postharvest temperatures utilized along the supply chain. Broccoli and cauliflower samples were inoculated with L. monocytogenes at approximately 3 log CFU/g and stored at 23 ± 2, 12 ± 2, 4 ± 2, and −18 ± 2°C. Samples were evaluated for L. monocytogenes levels after 0, 0.167 (4 h), 1, 2, 3, and 4 days at 23 ± 2°C; 0, 0.167, 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 10, and 14 days at 12 ± 2°C; 0, 0.167, 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 10, 14, 21, and 28 days at 4 ± 2°C; and 0, 1, 7, 28, 56, 84, 112, 140, and 168 days at −18 ± 2°C. L. monocytogenes populations were determined by plating samples onto tryptic soy agar and modified Oxford agar supplemented with nalidixic acid. Broccoli and cauliflower supported the growth of L. monocytogenes at 23, 12, and 4°C, and higher growth rates were observed at higher temperatures. Populations of L. monocytogenes on broccoli and cauliflower samples significantly increased within 1 day at 23°C (by 1.6 and 2.0 log CFU/g, respectively) (P ≤ 0.05). At 12°C, populations of L. monocytogenes on broccoli and cauliflower samples significantly increased over 14 days by 1.4 and 1.9 log CFU/g, respectively (P ≤ 0.05). No significant difference over time was observed in L. monocytogenes populations on broccoli and cauliflower samples held under refrigeration until populations began to grow by day 10 in both commodities (P > 0.05). Under frozen storage (−18°C), populations of L. monocytogenes survived on broccoli and cauliflower at least up to 168 days. Storage of broccoli and cauliflower at lower temperatures can minimize L. monocytogenes growth potential; growth rates were lower at 4°C than at 12 and 23°C.

HIGHLIGHTS
  • Broccoli and cauliflower supported L. monocytogenes growth at 23, 12, and 4°C.

  • L. monocytogenes survived up to at least 168 days on frozen broccoli and cauliflower.

  • L. monocytogenes growth rates on both commodities were higher at 23°C than at 12 and 4°C.

  • L. monocytogenes growth was not observed until day 10 on both commodities stored at 4°C.

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