Research – Quantification of Transfer of Salmonella from Citrus Fruits to Peel, Edible Portion, and Gloved Hands during Hand Peeling

Journal of Food Protection Salmonella

Although studies have quantified bacterial transfer between hands and various materials, cross-contamination between the surface of fresh citrus fruit and the edible portions during hand peeling has not been reported. This study quantifies transfer of Salmonella to the edible portion of citrus fruit from a contaminated peel during hand peeling. Citrus fruits used for this study were Citrus sinensis (sweet orange) cultivars ‘Valencia’ and ‘Navel’, Citrus unshiu (Satsuma mandarins), Citrus reticulata × Citrus paradisi (‘Minneola’ tangelo or ‘Honeybell’), and C. paradisi (grapefruit) cultivar ‘Marsh’. An avirulent Salmonella Typhimurium LT2 (ATCC 700720) resistant to rifampin was used for all experiments. The inoculum containing approximately 9 log CFU/mL (50 μL) was spot inoculated onto the equator, stem, or styler of each fruit and allowed to dry for 24 h. Six volunteers put on single-use latex gloves and peeled inoculated fruit. Peel, edible fruit portion, and gloves were collected and enumerated separately. Three replicates of the study were performed in which each volunteer peeled two inoculated fruit of each variety (n = 36 fruit per variety). Cross-contamination from contaminated surface of citrus fruits to edible portion or gloved hands during peeling was affected by inoculation sites. Average Salmonella transfer to the edible portion ranged from 0.16% (Valencia inoculated at the equator) to 5.41% (navel inoculated at the stem). Average Salmonella transfer to gloved hands ranged from 0.41% (grapefruit inoculated at the stem) to 8.97% (navel inoculated at the stem). Most Salmonella remained on the peel of citrus fruits. The average level of Salmonella remaining on the peel ranged from 5.37% (Minneola inoculated at the equator) to 66.3% (Satsuma inoculated at the styler). When grapefruit was inoculated, the Salmonella that remained on the peel showed a bimodal pattern in which some individuals left almost all Salmonella on the peel, while others left substantially less.

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