Bioaerosol distribution and fate to ensure microbiological safety and quality in food and agricultural processing facilities
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The food industry operates with strict rules to maintain safe and hygienic environments. Recently, aerosolized bacteria have been recognized as a threat to human health and shelf life of food (Salem and Gardner 1994). Air samples taken before and during three separate pork and beef slaughter processes using an Andersen N6 single stage impactor (Sutton, 2004) showed that the total airborne bacterial counts were less than three logs before slaughtering and greater than three logs during slaughtering. Lues et al. (2007) found 104 CFU/m3 microbial counts for potentially pathogenic bacteria and fungi in a chicken slaughtering facility, using a SAS Super 90 air sampler. Higher counts of airborne microorganisms found in the receiving-killing and defeathering areas indicate the importance of controlling microbial levels before processing to prevent the spread of organisms. Due to its clump-like structure, S. aureus was found to be able to readily adhere to surfaces in poultry slaughtering facilities (Lutgring et al., 1997). The air transmission of foodborne bacterial and viral pathogens has been recognized as one of the various factors promoting foodborne disease outbreaks including the Shiga Toxin producing Escherichia coli (STEC) (Cevallos-Cevallos et al., 2012). Although the air has been mentioned as a potential source of bacterial pathogens in produce (Beuchat, 1996), there are few, if any, reports about the prevalence of environmental pathogens such as Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) in bioaerosols formed in the packing environment during postharvest operations. Furthermore, some sanitizing treatments used in produce washing and disinfection may promote the reattachment of Salmonella onto the sanitized product, as reported for cantaloupes (Ukuku, 2006). In a produce packing environment, where air is often freely flowing through the plant, there is the potential for the presence of environmental pathogens such as Lm. Evaluating the suitability of physical and chemical methods as intervention methods to increase safety of leafy greens while maintaining their safety (Omac et al., 2017; Yang et al., 2018), and analyzing the air microbiome in packing plants could help identify the bacterial diversity...........