A mixture of magnetized carbonyl iron and insoluble zirconium hydroxide was investigated for its ability to concentrate various foodborne pathogens from 25-ml samples of reconstituted nonfat dry milk. Each sample was artificially contaminated with 103 to 106 CFU/25 ml of representative foodborne pathogens (Salmonella enterica serovar Enteritidis, Listeria monocytogenes, and Bacillus cereus spores) and processed for bacterial concentration with high-speed centrifugation for the primary concentration followed by a secondary concentration step involving the carbonyl iron–zirconium hydroxide mixture. Bacterial recoveries, as evaluated on the basis of loss to discarded supernatants, exceeded 75% for all organisms at all inoculum levels and were usually >90%. Recovery was confirmed by direct plating of the immobilized pellet, for which the values were similar albeit more varied. Additional experiments confirmed that the magnetized carbonyl iron–insoluble zirconium hydroxide mixture was relatively nontoxic to both Salmonella Enteritidis and L. monocytogenes. Overall, the entire concentration scheme resulted in a 25-fold reduction in sample volume with the recovery of viable bacterial cells. This novel compound shows promise for facilitating inexpensive, rapid, and effective bacterial concentration in food systems.

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Author notes

Paper number FSR 01-43 in the Journal Series of the Department of Food Science, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, N.C. The use of trade names in this publication does not imply endorsement by the North Carolina Agricultural Research Service nor criticism of similar ones not mentioned.