The effects of using contaminated seed and water on the persistence and internalization of Salmonella Newport in organic spinach cultivars- Lazio, Space, Emilia and Waitiki were studied. Seeds were contaminated by either immersing in a suspension of Salmonella and then sprouted or were sprouted in Salmonella contaminated water in the dark at 25 °C. After 5 days, germinated sprouts were analyzed for S. Newport population and internalization. Germinated sprouts were potted in soil and grown in a plant incubator for 4 weeks. Leaves, stems and roots were sampled for Salmonella population by plating on CHROMagar™. Plants surface-sterilized with chlorine were analyzed for internalized pathogen. Potting soil and water runoff were sampled for Salmonella after 4 weeks of plant growth. Contaminated seeds and irrigation water had S. Newport populations of 7.64±0.43 log CFU/g and 7.12±0.04 log CFU/ml, respectively. Sprouts germinated using contaminated water or seeds had S. Newport populations of 8.09±0.04 and 8.08±0.03 log CFU/g, respectively and had a Salmonella population that was significantly higher than other spinach tissues (P<0.05). Populations of S. Newport in leaves, stem and roots of spinach plants were as follows: contaminated seed- 2.82±1.69, 1.69±0.86, and 4.41±0.62 log CFU/ml; contaminated water- 3.56±0.90, 3.04±0.31, and 4.03±0.42 log CFU/ml of macerated tissue suspension, respectively. Internalization was observed in plants developing from contaminated seeds and in sprouts germinated using contaminated water. S. Newport populations of 2.82±0.70 log CFU/g and 1.76±0.46 log CFU/ml were recovered from soil and water runoff, respectively. The results indicate that contamination of spinach during germination can result in persistence, internalization and environmental reintroduction of Salmonella.
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