Transfer of Bacteria from Rind to Flesh

Fresh-cut pieces prepared from whole cantaloupe or honeydew melons showed the presence of mesophilic aerobic bacteria, Gram-negative bacteria, lactic acid bacteria, Pseudomonas spp., and yeasts and molds [17,47]. The predominant categories of microorganisms on fresh-cut cantaloupe immediately after fresh-cut preparation from unwashed whole melons were mesophilic aerobic bacteria and lactic acid bacteria. For fresh-cut honeydew, mesophilic aerobic bacteria predominated immediately after fresh-cut preparation. As days of refrigerated storage increased, other categories of microbes were detected in all samples, irrespective of initial treatment before fresh-cut preparation. The fact that the same categories of microorganisms were detected on fresh-cut pieces during storage as on the whole melon surface indicates that the microbes were transferred from the rind to the flesh during fresh-cut preparation. Transfer occurred during cutting and removal of melon rinds.

Salmonella inoculated on whole melon surfaces was recovered in fresh-cut pieces prepared from inoculated melons [39]. Similarly, Ukuku and Fett [8] reported survival and transfer of L. monocytogenes population from whole cantaloupe to fresh-cut pieces. The population on fresh-cut pieces also survived and increased during storage at an abusive temperature.

Ukuku et al. [48] reported that fresh-cut pieces prepared from cantaloupes inoculated with initial salmonella populations of 1.9, 3.5, or 4.6 log and treated with 97°C water or 5% hydrogen peroxide at 70°C were negative for salmonella by dilution plating, although positive by enrichment (Table 10.4). However, the populations of salmonella and all classes of native microflora in fresh-cut pieces prepared from sanitized melons were low compared to populations in fresh-cut pieces from untreated whole melon.

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