A dry-inoculation method for nut kernels

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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.

Tyann Blessington
Christopher G. Theofel
Linda J. Harris
Food Microbiology