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Access Type

Open Access

Degree Program

Food Science

Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



hummus, food, safety, kitchen, yeast, bacteria


Food borne illnesses continues to be a public health challenge in the United States (U.S.); an estimated 9.4 million incident cases occurred in 2011. In view of this challenge we conducted two food safety studies; 1) related to product formulation (hummus spoilage challenge study) and 2) evaluating the microbial safety of domestic kitchen surfaces in Residential Child Care Institutions (RCCI pilot study).

Hummus is of Mediterranean origin but is currently eaten globally. This challenge study evaluates a variety of industrial hummus formulations (four in total, differing in pH and/or addition of a preservative (natamycin). Two batches were setup: batch 1; aseptically inoculated hummus with 100 CFU/g fungal isolates and batch 2; uninoculated hummus. Samples of both hummus batches were stored at both 20oC (10 days accelerated testing) and 4oC (84 days recommended temperature testing). Inoculated samples were analyzed for fungus, whiles both fungi and bacteria (standard plate count (SPC) and Lactococci) counts were done for uninoculated samples. Results indicate that accelerated testing inaccurately predicts fungal growth at 4oC in hummus, also fungal growth inhibition requires a pH ≤ 4.0 ± 0.2 and refrigeration.

Limited studies have specifically evaluated the prevalence of pathogenic bacteria in domestic kitchens in the U.S, for this reason we assessed the microbial safety of 6 RCCI locations in MA. Fifteen key food contact surfaces and dish washing sponges, if available at each RCCI facility were assessed for SPC, yeast and molds, total coliform and E. coli, Listeria sp and Salmonella sp. Microbiological assessments were conducted preceding and after a hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP) food safety training and implementation at each location. Microbial growth varied by surface for each type of microorganism, wet surfaces had higher most probable number (MPN) counts. Compared to dry surfaces, wet surfaces had significantly higher mean total coliform counts. For both E. coli and total coliform, microbial load differed significantly by surfaces sampled (P = 0.0323 and 0.014) respectively. The surface and training interaction effect was highly significant for only E. coli (P = 0.0089). Training overall had no significant effect on reducing the microbial load on kitchen surfaces.

First Advisor

Lynne A. McLandsborough