Sources and risk factors for contamination, survival, persistence, and heat resistance of Salmonella in low-moisture foods are reviewed. Processed products such as peanut butter, infant formula, chocolate, cereal products, and dried milk are characteristically low-water-activity foods and do not support growth of vegetative pathogens such as Salmonella. Significant food safety risk might occur when contamination takes place after a lethal processing step. Salmonella cross-contamination in low-moisture foods has been traced to factors such as poor sanitation practices, poor equipment design, and poor ingredient control. It is well recognized that Salmonella can survive for long periods in low-moisture food products. Although some die-off occurs in low-moisture foods during storage, the degree of reduction depends on factors such as storage temperature and product formulation. The heat resistance of Salmonella is affected by many factors, mostly by strain and serotypes tested, previous growth and storage conditions, the physical and chemical food composition, test media, and the media used to recover heat-damaged cells. Salmonella heat resistance generally increases with reducing moisture. Care must be taken when applying published D- and z-values to a specific food process. The product composition and heating medium and conditions should not be significantly different from the product and process parameters used by the processors.

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