Outgrowth on Flesh

Populations of all groups of native microorganisms increased in fresh-cut samples as storage time increased, regardless of the treatment. The population of salmonella transferred from the untreated melons to the flesh during cutting averaged 2 log CFU/g for cantaloupe and 1.3 log CFU/g for honeydew. The population of salmonella on fresh-cut cantaloupe inoculated with 2.56 log CFU/g increased as storage time increased, especially at an abusive temperature [19,39] (Figure 10.1). Golden et al. [6] reported growth of salmonella inoculated directly onto fresh-cut cantaloupe, watermelon, and honeydew melons during storage at 23°C. Ukuku and Sapers [39] reported growth of S. Stanley on fresh-cut cantaloupe during storage at 8 and 20° C. Other investigators have reported that interior watermelon tissues support the growth of Salmonella spp. [7,61]. All melon-related foodborne outbreaks noted so far involved melons that were precut and held at unknown temperatures for some period of time at restaurants and retail food stores prior to being purchased and consumed. The inner flesh of melons comprises mainly parenchyma cells containing sugars, organic acids, and other substances that may be released upon plant cell injury and support microbial growth. Tamplin [3] suggested that attention should be directed to cleaning the melons at the time of cutting, using clean and sanitized utensils and surfaces to minimize contamination of the edible portion, and immediately consuming or holding cut melon pieces at cold temperatures.

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