Foodborne illness outbreaks involving cantaloupes have increased dramatically in the past 15 years in the United States and other countries. The need for the identification of the microbial sources that contaminate cantaloupe rinds has been raised by various investigators. This study was undertaken to identify the agricultural, industrial and human sources of microbial contamination from the pre- to post-harvest operations of cantaloupes grown at ten different farms in southern Texas. Results indicate that irrigation water contained a wide range of microorganisms that could cause human illness and were able to survive on the rind of cantaloupes before, at, and after harvesting. Fungi, total aerobic bacteria and total coliform bacteria were not completely eliminated by chlorinated water in the disinfection tanks of the six packinghouses under investigation. There were significant (P < 0.05) reductions on rind populations of fungi and total aerobic bacteria as well as drastic reductions in total coliform bacteria on the rinds after the disinfection and rinsing steps in all packing facilities. There was no evidence of the presence of Escherichia coli O157:H7 on packed cantaloupes across packinghouses. Less than a geometric mean of 1 c.f.u. cm−2 of salmonellae were detected on the surface of packed cantaloupes in two of the packinghouses, and approximately ten times more salmonellae were found on the packed fruit processed in the remaining packinghouses. A similar trend was observed with listeriae. Results suggested that microbial loads originating from river water may survive on the rind or may re-infest cantaloupes after the disinfection and rinsing process at the packinghouses. Disinfection techniques and aseptic handling of cantaloupes at the packing facilities need a closer evaluation to ensure a safe product.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Barak JD, Chue B, Mills DC (2003) Recovery of surface bacteria from and surface sanitation of cantaloupes. J Food Prot 66:1805–1810
Bender JB, Smith KE, Hedberg C, Osterholm MT (1999) Food-borne disease in the 21st century: what challenges await us? Postgrad Med 106:109–119
Beuchat LR, Farber JM, Garrett EH, Harris LJ, Parish ME, Suslow TV, Busta FF (2001) Standardization of a method to determine the efficacy of sanitizers in inactivating human pathogenic microorganisms on raw fruits and vegetables. J Food Prot 64:1079–1084
Beuchat LR (1995) Pathogenic microorganisms associated with fresh produce. J Food Prot 59:204–216
Castillo A, Mercado I, Lucía LM, Martínez-Ruiz Y, Ponce de León J, Murano EA, Acuff GR (2004) Salmonella contamination during production of cantaloupe: a binational study. J Food Prot 67:713–720
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (1996) Surveillance for food-born disease outbreaks in the United States, 1988–1992 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 45(SS-5):1–55
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2000 Surveillance for food-born disease outbreaks in the United States, 1993–1997 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 49(SS-01):1–51
Gagliardi JV, Millner PD, Lester G, Ingram D (2003) On-farm and postharvest processing sources of bacterial contamination to melon rinds. J Food Prot 66:82–87
Herwaldt BL, Beach MJ (1999) The return of Cyclospora in 1997: another outbreak of cyclosporiasis in North America associated with imported raspberries. Ann Intern Med 130:210–220
Johnson JL, Rose BE, Sharar AK, Ramson GM, Lattuada CP, McNamara AM (1995) Methods used for detection and recovery of Escherichia coli O157:H7 associated with a food-borne disease outbreak. J Food Prot 58:597–603
Johnston M, Jaykus LA (2004) Antimicrobial resistance of Enterococcus species isolated from produce. Appl Environ Microbiol 70:3133–3137
Knudsen DM, Yamamoto SA, Harris LJ (2001) Survival of Salmonella spp and Escherichia coli O157:H7 on fresh and frozen strawberries. J Food Prot 64:1483–1488
Li Y, Brackett RE, Chen J, Beuchat LR (2001) Survival and growth of Escherichia coli O157:H7 inoculate onto cut lettuce before or after heating in chlorinated water, followed by storage at 5 or 15°C. J Food Prot 64:305–309
Materon LA (2003) Survival of Escherichia coli O157:H7 applied to cantaloupes and the effectiveness of chlorinated water and lactic acid as disinfectants. World J Microbiol Biotechnol 19:867–873
Mohle-Boetani JC, Reporter R, Warner SB, Abbot S, Farrar J, Waterman SH, Vuglia DJ (1999) An outbreak of Salmonella serogroup Saphra due to cantaloupes from Mexico. J Infect Dis 180:1361–1364
Parish ME (1998) Coliforms, Escherichia coli and Salmonella serovars associated with a citrus-processing facility implicated in a Salmonella outbreak. J Food Prot 61:280–284
Prazak AM, Murano EA, Mercado I, Acuff GR (2002) Prevalence of Listeria monocytogenes during production and postharvest processing of cabbage. J Food Prot 65:1728–1734
Richards GM, Beuchat LR (2005) Infection of cantaloupe rind with Cladosporium cladosporioides and Penicillium expansum, and associated migration of Salmonella poona into edible tissues. Int J Food Microbiol 103:1–10
Tamplin M (1997) Salmonella and cantaloupes. Dairy Food Environ Sanitation 17:284–286
Ukuku DO (2006) Effect of sanitizing treatments on removal of bacteria from cantaloupe surface, and re-contamination with Salmonella. Food Microbiol 23:289–293
US Food and Drug Administration, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition 2001 Analysis and evaluation of preventive control measures for the control and reduction/elimination of microbial hazards on fresh and fresh-cut produce Available at: http://wwwcfsanfdagov/∼comm/ift3–1html Accessed 20 January 2006
US Food and Drug Administration, US Department of Agriculture, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 1998 Guide to minimize microbial food safety hazards for fresh fruits and vegetables Available at: http://wmcfsanfdagov/∼dms/prodguidhtml Accessed 20 January 2006
Van Netten P, Perales I, Van de Moosdijk A, Curtis GD, Mossel DA (1989) Liquid and solid selective differential media for the detection and enumeration of Listeria monocytogenes. Int J Food Microbiol 8:299–316
This work was supported by funds from a Texas Higher Education Board, Advance Research Program Project No. 000517–0123b and Faculty Research Council grants from the University of Texas—Pan American. The authors are thankful to those students who assisted during this research and to the managers of the produce packinghouses for allowing us access to their fields and packinghouse operations. We are also grateful to Drs. Frederick Zaidan, Christopher Little and Brad Henry for their critical reviews of this manuscript. Mention of brand or firm names does not constitute an endorsement by the University of Texas-Pan American over others of a similar nature not mentioned.
About this article
Cite this article
Materon, L.A., Martinez-Garcia, M. & McDonald, V. Identification of sources of microbial pathogens on cantaloupe rinds from pre-harvest to post-harvest operations. World J Microbiol Biotechnol 23, 1281–1287 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11274-007-9362-2
- Microbial pathogens