Rapid and Automated Fiber Optic Sensor for Testing Sprout Spent Irrigation Water

A Rapid and Automated Fiber Optic-Based Biosensor Assay for the Detection of Salmonella in Spent Irrigation Water Used in the Sprouting of Sprout Seeds

January 2004

Journal of Food Protection: Vol. 67, No. 1, pp. 46-5

Marianne F. Kramer,a and Daniel V. Lima

aDepartment of Biology, University of South Florida, 4202 East Fowler Avenue, SCA110, Tampa, Florida 33620, USA 2.



Recent outbreaks of foodborne illness have been linked to the consumption of contaminated sprouts. The spent irrigation water used to irrigate sprouts can carry many microorganisms, including pathogenic strains of Escherichia coli and Salmonella enterica. These pathogens are believed to originate from the seeds. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends that sprout producers conduct microbiological testing of spent irrigation water from each production lot at least 48 h after seeds have germinated. Microbial analysis for the detection of Salmonella is labor-intensive and takes days to complete. A rapid and automated fiber-optic biosensor assay for the detection of Salmonella in sprout rinse water was developed in this study. Alfalfa seeds contaminated with various concentrations of Salmonella Typhimurium were sprouted. The spent irrigation water was assayed 67 h after alfalfa seed germination with the RAPTOR (Research International, Monroe, Wash.), an automated fiber optic-based detector. Salmonella Typhimurium could be positively identified in spent irrigation water when seeds were contaminated with 50 CFU/g. Viable Salmonella Typhimurium cells were also recovered from the waveguides after the assay. This biosensor assay system has the potential to be directly connected to water lines within the sprout-processing facility and to operate automatically, requiring manual labor only for preventative maintenance. Therefore, the presence of Salmonella Typhimurium in spent irrigation water could be continuously and rapidly detected 3 to 5 days before the completion of the sprouting process.