Modeling the impact of the indigenous microbial population on the maximum population density of Salmonella on alfalfa

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Within a microbial risk assessment framework, modeling the maximum population density (MPD) of a pathogenic microorganism is important but often not considered. This paper describes a model predicting the MPD of Salmonella on alfalfa as a function of the initial contamination level, the total count of the indigenous microbial population, the maximum pathogen growth rate and the maximum population density of the indigenous microbial population. The model is parameterized by experimental data describing growth of Salmonella on sprouting alfalfa seeds at inoculum size, native microbial load and Pseudomonas fluorescens 2–79. The obtained model fits well to the experimental data, with standard errors less than ten percent of the fitted average values. The results show that the MPD of Salmonella is not only dictated by performance characteristics of Salmonella but depends on the characteristics of the indigenous microbial population like total number of cells and its growth rate. The model can improve the predictions of microbiological growth in quantitative microbial risk assessments. Using this model, the effects of preventive measures to reduce pathogenic load and a concurrent effect on the background population can be better evaluated. If competing microorganisms are more sensitive to a particular decontamination method, a pathogenic microorganism may grow faster and reach a higher level. More knowledge regarding the effect of the indigenous microbial population (size, diversity, composition) of food products on pathogen dynamics is needed in order to make adequate predictions of pathogen dynamics on various food products.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1301-1305
JournalWorld Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • escherichia-coli o157-h7
  • listeria-monocytogenes
  • predictive microbiology
  • ground-beef
  • growth
  • temperature
  • survival
  • sprouts
  • storage
  • microflora

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