Real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) allows rapid detection of Salmonella in frozen dairy products, but it might cause a false positive detection result because it might amplify DNA from dead target cells as well. In this study, Salmonella-free frozen ice cream was initially inoculated with heat-killed Salmonella Typhimurium cells and stored at -18°C. Bacterial DNA extracted from the sample was amplified using TaqMan probe-based real-time PCR targeting the invA gene. Our results indicated that DNA from the dead cells remained stable in frozen ice cream for at least 20 days, and could produce fluorescence signal for real-time PCR as well. To overcome this limitation, propidium monoazide (PMA) was combined with real-time PCR. PMA treatment can effectively prevent PCR amplification from heat-killed Salmonella cells in frozen ice cream. The PMA real-time PCR assay can selectively detect viable Salmonella at as low as 103 CFU/mL. Combining 18 hours of pre-enrichment with the assay allows for the detection of viable Salmonella at 100 CFU/mL and avoiding the false-positive result of dead cells. The PMA real-time PCR assay provides an alternative specifically for detection of viable Salmonella in ice cream. However, when the PMA real-time PCR assay was evaluated in ice cream subjected to frozen storage, it obviously underestimated the contamination situation of viable Salmonella, which might lead to a false negative result. According to this result, the use of enrichment prior to PMA real-time PCR analysis remains as the more appropriate approach. © 2015, Food and Drug Administration, Taiwan. Published by Elsevier Taiwan LLC. All rights reserved.

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