Title page for ETD etd-09042008-195817

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Davis, Marjorie Lynn
Author's Email Address madavis1@vt.edu
URN etd-09042008-195817
Title Survival of Escherichia coli O157:H7 on cut and whole surfaces of spinach and leaf lettuce, packaged under modified atmospheric conditions
Degree Master of Science In the Life Sciences
Department Food Science and Technology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Boyer, Renee R. Committee Chair
Ponder, Monica A. Committee Member
Williams, Robert C. Committee Member
  • E. coli O157:H7
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Modified Atmosphere Packaging
Date of Defense 2008-08-28
Availability unrestricted

Numerous food-borne outbreaks of Escherichia coli O157:H7 have been linked to leafy greens in recent years. An overwhelming amount of lettuce and spinach on the market is sold in modified atmosphere packaging as ready to eat salad mixes. The objectives of this study were to determine the effects of modified atmosphere, storage temperature, and inoculum size on survival of E. coli O157:H7 on cut and whole leaf lettuce and spinach. E. coli O157:H7 H1730 was inoculated onto cut and whole leaves of leaf lettuce and spinach. Samples were held under normal atmospheric conditions or in a modified atmosphere package at either 4ºC or 10ºC to simulate display and abuse temperatures. Leaves were sampled at Days 0, 1 and every other day until visual spoilage occurred (7 days for lettuce, 9 days for spinach). E. coli O157:H7 was able to survive at 4° and 10°C regardless of atmosphere and inoculum size for 7 days on cut and whole lettuce and 9 days on cut and whole spinach. Overall, numbers of E. coli O157:H7 increased (1 log) throughout the storage period on spinach, and decreased on lettuce (1-1.5 log). Significantly higher (P < 0.05) numbers of E. coli O157:H7 were found on lettuce and spinach stored at 10ºC than when stored at 4ºC. There were no significant differences (P > 0.05) in Numbers of E. coli O157:H7 with respect to atmosphere, leaf type or inoculum size. If contamination of lettuce or spinach with E. coli O157:H7 occurred, the pathogen may survive well under typical packaging and storage conditions.

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