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Int J Food Microbiol. 2001 May 21;66(1-2):31-7.

Effect of stress induced by suboptimal growth factors on survival of Escherichia coli O157:H7.

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Department of Food Technology and Nutrition, University of Ghent, Belgium.


This study investigated the growth and survival of E. coli O157:H7 exposed to a combination of suboptimal factors (22 degrees C, 7 degrees C, -18 degrees C/0.5% NaCl, 5.0% NaCl/pH 7.0, pH 5.4, pH 4.5/addition of lactic acid) in a simulation medium for red meat (beef gravy). Prolonged survival was noted as the imposed stress was more severe, and as multiple growth factors became suboptimal. At a defined temperature (7 degrees C or -18 degrees C), survival was prolonged at the more acid, more suboptimal pH (pH 4.5 > pH 5.4 > pH 7.0) while at a defined pH (pH 4.5), better survival was observed at 7 degrees C than at 22 degrees C. This suggests that application of the hurdle concept for preservation of food may inhibit outgrowth but induce prolonged survival of E. coli O157:H7 in minimal processed foods. At both 22 degrees C and 7 degrees C, the addition of lactic acid instead of HCl to reduce pH (to pH 4.5) resulted in a more rapid decrease of E. coli O157:H7. High survival was observed in beef gravy, pH 5.4 at -18 degrees C (simulation of frozen meat)-reduction of log 3.0 to log 1.9 after 43 days--and in beef gravy, pH 4.5 and 5% NaCl at 7 degrees C (simulation of a fermented dried meat product kept in refrigeration)--less than 1 log reduction in 43 days. In these circumstances, however, a high degree of sublethal damage of the bacterial cells was noted. The degree of sublethal damage can be estimated from the difference in recovery of the pathogen on the non-selective TSA medium and the selective SMAC medium.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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