Attachment and survival of Listeria monocytogenes on external surfaces (rind) of inoculated cantaloupe, resistance of the surviving bacteria to chlorine or hydrogen peroxide treatments, transfer of the pathogen from unsanitized and sanitized rinds to fresh-cut tissues during cutting and growth, and survival of L. monocytogenes on fresh-cut pieces of cantaloupe were investigated. Surface treatment with 70% ethanol to reduce the native microflora on treated melon, followed by immersion in a four-strain cocktail of L. monocytogenes (108 CFU/ml) for 10 min, deposited 4.2 log10 CFU/cm2 and 3.5 log10 CFU/cm2 of L. monocytogenes on treated and untreated cantaloupe rinds, respectively. L. monocytogenes survived on the treated or untreated cantaloupe rinds for up to 15 days during storage at 4 and 20°C, but populations declined by approximately 1 to 2 log10 CFU/cm2. Fresh-cut pieces prepared from inoculated whole cantaloupes stored at 4°C for 24 h after inoculation were positive for L. monocytogenes. Washing inoculated whole cantaloupes in solutions containing 1,000 ppm of chlorine or 5% hydrogen peroxide for 2 min at 1 to 15 days of storage at 4°C after inoculation resulted in a 2.0-to 3.5-log reduction in L. monocytogenes on the melon surface. Fresh-cut pieces prepared from the sanitized melons were negative for L. monocytogenes. After direct inoculation onto fresh-cut pieces, L. monocytogenes survived, but did not grow, during 15 days of storage at 4°C. Growth was evident by 4 h of storage at 8 and 20°C. It is concluded that sanitizing with chlorine or hydrogen peroxide has the potential to reduce or eliminate the transfer of L. monocytogenes on melon surfaces to fresh-cut pieces during cutting.
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