The ability of Salmonella to migrate from an external aqueous environment through the almond hull and shell, and to colonize the kernel, was evaluated in two ways. First, the outer surface of shell halves from five varieties of almonds that differed in shell hardness were placed in contact with a suspension of Salmonella enterica serovar Enteritidis phage type 30 for 24hat24°C. Salmonella Enteritidis was isolated from the inside of these almond shells in 46 and 100% of the samples, by direct swabbing of the inner surface of the shell and by enrichment from the swab, respectively. These findings suggested that hardness of the shell is not a significant factor in the migration of the pathogen through that tissue. In addition, both motile and nonmotile strains of S. enterica serovar Typhimurium migrated through the almond shells to the same extent under the conditions of this assay, indicating that bacterial migration through the wet shell may be a passive process. Second, whole almonds (intact hull, shell, and kernel) were soaked for 24 to 72 h at 24°C in a suspension of Salmonella Enteritidis phage type 30 labeled with the green fluorescent protein. Green fluorescent protein–labeled Salmonella cells were observed on the outer and inner surfaces of both the almond hull and shell, and on the kernel, by confocal laser scanning microscopy. Our data provide direct evidence that wet conditions allow for Salmonella migration through the hull and shell and onto the almond kernel, thus providing a means by which almond kernels may become contaminated in the field.

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