Evaluation of alternative detection methods for foodborne pathogens typically involves comparisons against a "gold standard" culture method, which may produce false-negative (FN) results, particularly under worst-case scenarios such as low contamination levels, difficult-to-detect strains, and challenging food matrices (e.g., matrices with a water activity of ,0.6). We used extended enrichment times (up to 72 h for both primary and secondary enrichments) to evaluate a gold standard method for Salmonella detection (the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Bacteriological Analytical Manual [BAM] method) in two lowwater- activity foods (dry pet food and chocolate) inoculated at low contamination levels (most probable number ca. 1/25 g) with five Salmonella strains. Strains were selected to include those with a poor ability to grow in enrichment media. Among the 100 pet food and 100 chocolate samples tested, 53 and 50, respectively, were positive with the standard BAM method, and 57 and 59, respectively, were positive with the extended BAM method. Thus, the FN probabilities for the standard BAM method were 7% for pet food and 15% for chocolate. An alternative enzyme immunoassay method for detection of Salmonella in chocolate produced FN probabilities of 6 and 20% when compared against the standard and extended BAM methods, respectively. Detection of Salmonella Mississippi was significantly reduced with the alternative method (P = 0.023) compared with the extended BAM method. We calculated a composite reference standard to further define FN probabilities based on variable results from multiple assays (the standard BAM, extended BAM, and alternative methods). Based on this standard, the enzyme immunoassay for Salmonella detection in chocolate had a 28% FN probability and the standard and extended BAM methods had 23 and 9% FN probabilities, respectively. These results provide a framework for how inclusion of extended enrichment times can facilitate evaluation of alternative detection methods.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science