Microbiological Quality of Fresh Nopal Juice

Microorganisms. 2016 Dec 10;4(4):46. doi: 10.3390/microorganisms4040046.


The consumption of fresh nopal cactus juice is widely popular among health-conscious consumers in Mexico. The juice is prepared from fresh cladodes that have only been rinsed with tap water and are not subjected to a pasteurization or terminal bacterial reduction process. The aim of this study was to evaluate the microbial quality of commercially available fresh juices (n = 162) made with nopal in Texcoco, State of Mexico, during the summer and spring season. Standard microbiological methods, the PCR technique and the serological method were used for isolation and identification of bacteria. All samples contained total coliforms and 91% were positive for Escherichia coli. Although total coliforms and E. coli were detected throughout the study, their populations were significantly lower (p < 0.05) in winter and spring, respectively. Citrobacter youngae was found in 20% of the samples, an unidentified species of Citrobacter in 10%, C. freundii and Proteus mirabilis in 3%, and Salmonella Javiana in 1%. The presence of these microorganisms, especially Salmonella, in the nopal juices is unacceptable due to its health significance. The information generated in this study is relevant for human health risk assessment associated with the consumption of unpasteurized nopal juices and potential interventions to minimize pathogen contamination.

Keywords: Citrobacter; E. coli; Opuntia-ficus indica; Salmonella; cactus; nopal juice; total coliforms.