Survival and growth of Salmonella in salsa and related ingredients
Posted: March 4th, 2010 - 12:17pm
Source: Journal of Food Protection®, Volume 73, Number 3, pp. 434-444(11)
A large outbreak of Salmonella Saintpaul associated with raw jalapeño peppers, serrano peppers, and possibly tomatoes was reported in the United States in 2008. During the outbreak, two clusters of illness investigated among restaurant patrons were significantly associated with eating salsa. Experiments were performed to determine the survival and growth characteristics of Salmonella in salsa and related major ingredients, i.e., tomatoes, jalapeño peppers, and cilantro. Intact and chopped vegetables and different formulations of salsas were inoculated with a five-strain mixture of Salmonella and then stored at 4, 12, and 21°C for up to 7 days.Salmonella populations were monitored during storage. Salmonella did not grow, but survived on intact tomatoes and jalapeño peppers, whereas significant growth at 12 and 21°C was observed on intact cilantro. In general, growth of Salmonella occurred in all chopped vegetables when stored at 12 and 21°C, with chopped jalapeño peppers being the most supportive of Salmonella growth. Regardless of differences in salsa formulation, no growth of Salmonella (initial inoculation ca. 3 log CFU/g) was observed in salsa held at 4°C; however, rapid or gradual decreases in Salmonella populations were only observed in formulations that contained both fresh garlic and lime juice. Salmonella grew at 12 and 21°C in salsas, except for those formulations that contained both fresh garlic and lime juice, in which salmonellae were rapidly or gradually inactivated, depending on salsa formulation. These results highlight the importance of preharvest pathogen contamination control of fresh produce and proper formulation and storage of salsa.