A dry-inoculation method for nut kernels
A dry-inoculation method for almonds and walnuts was developed to eliminate the need for the postinoculation drying required for wet-inoculation methods. The survival of Salmonella enterica Enteritidis PT 30 on wet- and dry-inoculated almond and walnut kernels stored under ambient conditions (average: 23 C; 41 or 47% RH) was then compared over 14 weeks. For wet inoculation, an aqueous Salmonella preparation was added directly to almond or walnut kernels, which were then dried under ambient conditions (3 or 7 days, respectively) to initial nut moisture levels. For the dry inoculation, liquid inoculum was mixed with sterilized sand and dried for 24 h at 40 C. The dried inoculated sand was mixed with kernels, and the sand was removed by shaking the mixture in a sterile sieve. Mixing procedures to optimize the bacterial transfer from sand to kernel were evaluated; in general, similar levels were achieved on walnuts (4.8-5.2 log CFU/g) and almonds (4.2-5.1 log CFU/g). The decline of Salmonella Enteritidis populations was similar during ambient storage (98 days) for both wet-and dry-inoculation methods for both almonds and walnuts. The dry-inoculation method mimics some of the suspected routes of contamination for tree nuts and may be appropriate for some postharvest challenge studies.