Research – Efficacy of Repeated Applications of Bacteriophages on Salmonella enterica-Infected Alfalfa Sprouts during Germination

MDPI

Nontyphoidal Salmonella enterica is one of the leading pathogens for foodborne outbreaks in a multitude of food commodities, including alfalfa sprouts, which are commonly consumed raw. The food industry has commonly used chlorinated washes, but such methods may not be perceived as natural; this can be a detriment as a large portion of sprouts are designated for the organic market. A natural and affordable antimicrobial method that has been acquiring popularity is the use of bacteriophages. This study compared the efficacy of repeated daily applications and a single application of two separate bacteriophage cocktails (SE14, SE20, SF6 and SE14, SF5, SF6) against four Salmonella enterica (S. enterica) strains on germinating alfalfa sprout seeds from days 0 to 7. The results show S. Enteritidis to be the most susceptible to both cocktails with ~2.5 log CFU/mL decrease on day 0 with cocktail SE14, SF5, and SF6. S. enterica populations on all strains continued to grow even with repeated daily bacteriophage applications but in a significantly decreased rate (p < 0.05) compared with a single bacteriophage application. The extent of the reduction was dependent on the S. enterica strain, but the results do show benefits to using repeated bacteriophage applications during sprout germination to reduce S. enterica populations compared with a single bacteriophage application.

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