Onion powder and talc were inoculated with one of three groups of Salmonella enterica or a putative surrogate, Enterococcus faecium NRRL B-2354, and the radiation sensitivity of S. enterica was compared to E. faecium. For both inoculated onion powder and inoculated talc, D10-values were greater for E. faecium than any of the three groups of S. enterica. The survival of E. faecium in irradiated talc was used to estimate the potential survival of S. enterica in irradiated spices. Onion powder, dried oregano, whole cumin seeds or peppercorns were mixed with talc inoculated with either S. enterica (previously associated with a foodborne disease outbreak) or E. faecium and irradiated. The D10-values were calculated for each bacterial group and compared between E. faecium and S. enterica within each spice. For each spice, the D10-value for E. faecium was either not statistically different from (P < 0.05) S. enterica or greater than that of S. enterica (onion powder). Quadratic and linear models were developed to allow the estimation of potential surviving populations, and potential decimal reductions of S. enterica, based on surviving populations and decimal reductions determined with E. faecium. The use of E. faecium and these mathematical models would allow a processor to validate an irradiation process by estimating the reduction in S. enterica, based on the population reductions of E. faecium.
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