Detection of Cyclospora cayetanensis on bagged pre-cut salad mixes within their shelf-life and after sell by date by the U.S. food and drug administration validated method.
Recently, outbreaks of Cyclospora cayetanensis in the U.S. were linked to the consumption of a variety of salads containing romaine and/or iceberg lettuce, carrots and/or red cabbage. The Bacteriological Analytical Manual (BAM) Chapter 19b method was validated for the detection of C. cayetanensis in carrots, cabbage and romaine lettuce, but has not been previously evaluated in ready-to-eat (RTE) salad mixes. In addition, the only samples available for traceback investigations are sometimes leftovers in bad conditions. This study evaluated the validated BAM method for detection of C. cayetanensis in two different RTE mixed salads (mix 1: romaine and iceberg lettuces, carrots, and red cabbage and mix 2: romaine and iceberg lettuces, carrots, red cabbage, radish, and pea pods) in good condition and after their sell by date. Individual samples (25 g) were seeded with five and 200 C. cayetanensis oocysts. Unseeded produce was used as negative control. The method included washing of the produce, concentration and extraction of C. cayetanensis DNA and molecular detection of C. cayetanensis 18 S rRNA gene. As few as five oocysts were detected in both fresh and after sell by date mix salads. All unseeded samples were negative, and all samples of both salad types seeded with 200 oocysts were positive. In samples seeded with 200 oocysts, average 18 S rRNA C. cayetanensis CT values were significantly higher in fresh salad mix 1 compared to fresh salad mix 2; CT values were significantly higher in the after sell by date salads compared to their respective fresh mixes (p < 0.05). In conclusion, the BAM method was able to detect as few as five oocysts even in after sell by date RTE mix salads. However, the differences in detection observed, highlight the importance of evaluating the performance of the validated C. cayetanensis detection method in different food matrices and conditions, in advance for future outbreak investigations.
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