Date of Award
© 2022 Jessica Vorse
Master of Science in Marine Sciences
The American seaweed industry is growing, primarily into the edible sector, and as a result, more seaweed products are available for human consumption. It is necessary to evaluate the safety of industry’s current post-harvest storage and processing methods to ensure the risk of foodborne pathogens on edible seaweed remains low. We evaluated the pathogen load of edible kelp post-harvest under three different storage temperatures (4˚C, 10˚C, 20˚C) and two different drying methods (air- and freeze-drying). The focal pathogens for this project were six of the most common food-associated pathogens in the United States: Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella enterica, Staphylococcus aureus, pathogenic Escherichia coli, Vibrio vulnificus and Vibrio parahaemolyticus. We tested all six pathogens under each treatment condition on both sugar kelp (Saccharina latissima) and rockweed (Ascophyllum nodosum) as these are the most commonly farmed and wild-harvested species in Maine, respectively. We inoculated a known concentration of pathogen onto freshly harvested kelp, treated it under a storage temperature or drying method, and sampled it over time to determine the impact of treatment on pathogen load. Our results showed that storage at 20˚C led to replication while storage at 4˚C and 10˚C were effective at halting the replication of focal pathogens; however, as expected, no storage temperature resulted in notable pathogen death. On the contrary, both air-drying and freeze-drying were effective means to produce significant log scale reductions in surface pathogen load for all focal species. For both kelp species and a majority of pathogens, air-drying reduced pathogen load more than freeze-drying. Lastly, storing dried kelp for 6-weeks further reduced pathogen load across all cases. These results are promising for industry as they corroborate historical evidence that current post-harvest storage and processing conditions are producing products safe for human consumption.
Vorse, Jessica, "The Effect Of Post-Harvest Storage Temperature And Drying Method On The Pathogen Load Of Edible Kelp" (2022). All Theses And Dissertations. 445.