Studies have been carried out in which growth patterns of a Salmonella sp. and competing micro-organisms, especially other Enterobacteriaceae, were followed during pre-enrichment in buffered peptone water (BPw) and subsequent selective enrichment in tetrathionate broth (TBB). Pre-enrichment cultures were inoculated with minced meat and three reference samples containing nalidixic acid-resistant salmonellas. Irrespective of their initial numbers in BPw, Enterobacteriaceae increased to 10(8)/ml or more. During incubation in TBB at 43 degrees C, numbers of lactose-positive Enterobacteriaceae decreased in most enrichments which resulted in a positive salmonella isolation, but remained constant in the majority of those that did not. Levels of lactose-negative Enterobacteriaceae did not decrease in most salmonella-positive tests, but did so in half of the salmonella-negative ones. In the salmonella-positive tests the numbers of salmonellas had increased to 10(3)-10(7)/ml in BPw and after transfer to TBB slowly reached 10(4)/ml or more. In all cases the numbers of salmonellas exceeded those of the competing flora on brilliant green agar (BGA). In the salmonella-negative tests the numbers of salmonellas had increased less in BPw and decreased in most of the TBB enrichments. In none of these negative tests did the numbers of salmonellas exceed those of the competing flora on BGA. Escherichia coli dominated in most of the salmonella-negative tests. The results suggest more influence of lactose-positive than lactose-negative Enterobacteriaceae on the detection of salmonellas. The effect of competing microorganisms seems to depend not only upon their initial numbers, but also upon the types that can interact with salmonellas during selective enrichment.
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