The present study compared the sensitivity of the BAX automated fluorometric and the recently discontinued BAX gel electrophoresis systems with a standard culture method to detect Salmonella in 333 high-moisture and 171 low-moisture foods. A total of 95 naturally contaminated foods, including 63 high-moisture and 32 low-moisture foods, were detected by the standard culture method. No contaminated samples were identified exclusively by the BAX systems. By means of the analytical protocol stipulated by the manufacturer, the BAX fluorometric system detected 36 (57.1%) and 29 (90.6%) of the contaminated high- and low-moisture foods, respectively. Similar results were obtained with the BAX gel electrophoresis system, which identified 40 (63.5%) and 26 (81.3%) of the contaminated high- and low-moisture foods. The rate of false-positive reactions with the BAX systems was low. Our results indicate that the low sensitivity of the BAX systems with high-moisture foods, notably raw meats and poultry products, was serovar-independent. The high levels of background microflora that commonly occur in raw meat and on fresh fruit and vegetable products, and the high successive dilutions of test materials for PCR analysis, suggestively undermined the sensitivity of the gel and the fluorometric BAX assays. The potential benefits of immunomagnetic separation of Salmonella in preenrichment cultures, of selective broth enrichment following preenrichment to markedly reduce levels of background microflora in PCR test materials, and the use of larger portions of test materials in PCR analyses should be investigated.

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