High salinity relay as a post-harvest processing method for reducing Vibrio vulnificus levels in oysters (Crassostrea virginica)
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High salinity relay as a post-harvest processing method for reducing Vibrio vulnificus levels in oysters (Crassostrea virginica)

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  • Journal Title:
    International Journal of Food Microbiology
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    High salinity relay of Eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica) was evaluated as a post-harvest processing (PHP) method for reducing Vibrio vulnificus. This approach relies on the exposure of oysters to natural high salinity waters and preserves a live product compared to previously approved PHPs. Although results of prior studies evaluating high salinity relay as a means to decrease V. vulnificus levels were promising, validation of this method as a PHP following approved guidelines is required. This study was designed to provide data for validation of this method following Food and Drug Administration (FDA) PHP validation guidelines. During each of 3 relay experiments, oysters cultured from 3 different Chesapeake Bay sites of contrasting salinities (10–21 psu) were relayed without acclimation to high salinity waters (31–33 psu) for up to 28 days. Densities of V. vulnificus and densities of total and pathogenic Vibrio parahaemolyticus (as tdh positive strains) were measured using an MPN-quantitative PCR approach. Overall, 9 lots of oysters were relayed with 6 exhibiting initial V. vulnificus >10,000/g. As recommended by the FDA PHP validation guidelines, these lots reached both the 3.52 log reduction and the <30 MPN/g densities requirements for V. vulnificus after 14 to 28 days of relay. Densities of total and pathogenic V. parahaemolyticus in relayed oysters were significantly lower than densities at the sites of origin suggesting an additional benefit associated with high salinity relay. While relay did not have a detrimental effect on oyster condition, oyster mortality levels ranged from 2 to 61% after 28 days of relay. Although the identification of the factors implicated in oyster mortality will require further examination, this study strongly supports the validation of high salinity relay as an effective PHP method to reduce levels of V. vulnificus in oysters to endpoint levels approved for human consumption.
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    International Journal of Food Microbiology, 279, 70-79
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    Accepted Manuscript
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