Over the past years, products of non-animal origin have been increasingly linked to foodborne diseases caused by the enterohemorrhagic pathogen Escherichia coli O157:H7. Contaminated fresh produce and derived ready-to-eat meals are of major concern, since no further or only minimal processing is applied. In this study, flow cytometry was evaluated as a rapid technique to detect E. coli O157:H7 by immunofluorescence, using polyclonal antibodies conjugated to R-phycoerythrin, in refrigerated ready-to-eat pasta salad containing acetic acid and benzoic acid. Signal filtering strategies were applied during sample analysis to reduce the limit of detection of the technique to 5 log. CFU/g. Simultaneously with pathogen detection, physiological state was assessed by staining with the membrane integrity indicators propidium iodide and SYBR Green I. Fine tuning of dye concentrations and ratios allowed discrimination of not only cells with intact or damaged membranes, but also of cells with partially damaged membranes, which were considered injured cells. Then, changes in membrane integrity of inoculated E. coli O157:H7 cells were monitored throughout 14-day refrigerated storage. Most cells were injured at the beginning of refrigeration, but showed an intact membrane at the end. This suggests that injured E. coli O157:H7 cells underwent a membrane repair during exposure to refrigeration and acid stresses, and survived in ready-to-eat pasta salad. This highlights the importance of the implementation of control measures to limit the presence of this pathogen in non-animal origin food products. Additionally, the proposed immunodetection and membrane integrity three-color assay in food is a good tool to monitor the effect of a number of food-related treatments on E. coli O157:H7 cell membrane. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.
|Journal||International Journal of Food Microbiology|
|Publication status||Published - 3 Jan 2014|
- Escherichia coli O157:H7
- Flow cytometry
- Membrane integrity
- Membrane repair
- Ready-to-eat salad