Effect of storage temperatures and stresses on the survival of Salmonella spp. in halva

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Abstract

The presence of Salmonella spp. in halva has been associated with foodborne illnesses and product recalls from the markets. This study investigated the effect of environmental stresses on the survival of Salmonella spp. in halva during storage for 12 months at 10 and 25°C (log (N0/N) g−1). Halva samples were inoculated with a cocktail of four strains of unstressed, desiccation stressed or heat stressed Salmonella (106–107 CFU per gram). In general, survival of Salmonella spp. in halva decreased significantly (P < 0·05) as storage time and temperature increased. At the end of halva shelf life at 10°C, the initial populations of unstressed, desiccation stressed or heat stressed Salmonella spp. decreased by 2·7, 2·6 or 2·8 log CFU per gram (reduction rate c. 0·2 log CFU per month), respectively. While at 25°C, the populations decreased 5·2, 6·7 or 6·3 log CFU per gram, respectively (reduction rate c. 0·4–0·5 log CFU per month). The populations of stressed Salmonella spp. in halva samples were not significantly different (P ≥ 0·05) from populations of unstressed cells during storage at 10 and 25°C, except during the last 3 months of storage at 25°C when populations of unstressed cells were higher (P < 0·05). Exposing Salmonella spp. to desiccation or heat stress prior product contamination may play a role in Salmonella spp. survival in halva during storage.

Significance and Impact of the Study

Contamination of halva (tahini halva) with Salmonella from raw materials or during production was documented. Halva and tahini have been involved in salmonellosis outbreaks in different countries. The study demonstrated enhanced survivability of stressed and unstressed Salmonella spp. in halva over a 12-month storage period at 10 and 25°C with lower log reductions than expected. Exposing Salmonella spp. to desiccation or heat stress prior product contamination may play a role in microbial survival in halva during storage. These findings serve as a model to halva producers to implement control measures to prevent Salmonella spp. contamination in halva.

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