Adhesion and removal of E. coli K12 as affected by leafy green produce epicuticular wax composition, surface roughness, produce and bacterial surface hydrophobicity, and sanitizers

Sindy Palma-Salgado, Kang Mo Ku, Mengyi Dong, Thanh H. Nguyen, John A. Juvik, Hao Feng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Contaminated leafy vegetables have been associated with high-profile outbreaks causing severe illnesses. A good understanding of the interactions between human pathogen and produce is important for developing improved food safety control strategies. Currently, the role played by produce surface physiochemical characteristics in such interactions is not well-understood. This work was performed to examine the effects of produce physiochemical characteristics, including surface roughness, epicuticular wax composition, and produce and bacteria surface hydrophobicity on attachment and removal of vegetative bacteria. Escherichia coli K12 was used as a model microorganism to evaluate attachment to and removal from five leafy green vegetables after washing with selected sanitizers. A detailed epicuticular wax component analysis was conducted and the changes of wax composition after sanitation were also evaluated. The results showed that E. coli K12 removal is positively correlated with alkanes, ketones, and total wax content on leaf surfaces. Vegetables with high surface wax content had less rough leaf surfaces and more bacterial removal than the low wax produce. Produce surface roughness positively correlated to E. coli K12 adhesion and negatively correlated to removal. The cells preferentially attached to cut vegetable surfaces, with up to 1.49 times more attachment than on leaf adaxial surfaces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number108834
JournalInternational Journal of Food Microbiology
Volume334
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2 2020

Keywords

  • Bacteria adhesion
  • Epicuticular wax
  • Hydrophobicity
  • Plant surface physiochemical
  • Sanitation
  • Surface roughness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Microbiology

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