Environmental monitoring (EM) programs are designed to detect the presence of pathogens in food manufacturing environments with the goal of preventing microbial contamination of food. Nevertheless, limited knowledge exists regarding the influence of environmental conditions on microbial recovery during EM. This study utilizes a commercially-available polyurethane foam (PUF) EM tool to determine the influence of environmental factors on the recovery of foodborne pathogens. The specific objectives of this study were to determine if environmental conditions and surface composition impact the recovery of sought-after microorganisms found in food processing environments. These data are compared across 1) microorganism type, 2) surface type, 3) environmental temperature and relative humidity, and 4) exposure time. Two bacteria ( Listeria monocytogenes , Salmonella Typhimurium) and one human norovirus surrogate (Tulane virus [TV]) were inoculated onto three non-porous surfaces (polypropylene, stainless steel, neoprene). Surfaces were held in an environmental chamber for 24 or 72 h at 30°C/30%, 6°C/85%, and 30°C/85% relative humidity (RH). Data indicate that microbial recovery from environmental surfaces significantly (p ≤ 0.05) varies by microorganism type, environmental conditions, and exposure time. For instance, all microorganisms were significantly different from each other, with the greatest mean log reduction being TV and the lesser reduction being L. monocytogenes at 4.94 ± 1.75 log 10 PFU/surface and 2.54 ± 0.91 log 10 CFU/surface, respectively. Overall, these data can be used to improve the effectiveness of EM programs and underscores the need to better comprehend how EM test results are impacted by food manufacturing environmental conditions.
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