Wet versus Dry inoculation methods have a significant effect of listeria monocytogenes growth on many types of whole intact fresh produce

Marina Girbal, Laura K. Strawn, Claire M. Murphy, Donald W. Schaffner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Listeria monocytogenes causes relatively few outbreaks linked to whole fresh produce but triggers recalls each year in the United States. There are limited data on the influence of wet versus dry inoculation methods on pathogen growth on whole produce. A cocktail of five L. monocytogenes strains that included clinical, food, and environmental isolates associated with foodborne outbreaks and recalls was used. Cultures were combined to target a final wet inoculum concentration of 4 to 5 log CFU/mL. The dry inoculum was prepared by mixing wet inoculum with 100 g of sterile sand and drying for 24 h. Produce investigated belonged to major commodity families: Ericaceae (blackberry, raspberry, and blueberry), Rutaceae (lemon and mandarin orange), Rosaceae (sweet cherry), Solanaceae (tomato), Brassaceae (cauliflower and broccoli), and Apiaceae (carrot). Whole intact, inoculated fruit and vegetable commodities were incubated at 2, 12, 22, and 35 6 28C. Commodities were sampled for up to 28 days, and the experiment was replicated six times. The average maximum growth increase was obtained by measuring the maximum absolute increase for each replicate within a specific commodity, temperature, and inoculation method. Data for each commodity, replicate, and temperature were used to create primary growth or survival models describing the lag phase and growth or shoulder and decline as a function of time. Use of a liquid inoculum (versus dry inoculum) resulted in a markedly increased L. monocytogenes growth rate and growth magnitude on whole produce surfaces. Temperature highly influenced this difference: a greater effect seen with more commodities at higher temperatures (22 and 358C) versus lower temperatures (2 and 128C). These findings need to be explored for other commodities and pathogens. The degree to which wet or dry inoculation techniques more realistically mimic contamination conditions throughout the supply chain (e.g., production, harvest, postharvest, transportation, or retail) should be investigated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1793-1800
Number of pages8
JournalActa Medica Portuguesa
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine(all)


  • Dry inoculation
  • Inoculation method
  • Listeria monocytogenes
  • Storage temperature
  • Whole intact produce


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