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Int J Food Microbiol. 2003 Aug 1;84(3):263-72.

Relevance of microbial interactions to predictive microbiology.

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Institute of Food Research, Norwich Research Park, Colney, UK.


Microbial interaction can be ignored in predictive microbiology under most conditions. We show that interactions are only important at high population densities, using published data on inhibition of growth of Listeria monocytogenes in broth. Our analysis using growth models from predictive microbiology indicated that interactions only occur at population densities of approximately 10(8) cfu/ml of the protective cultures. Spoilage is evident at these levels, except for fermented foods. In bacterial colonies, diffusion limitation acts as a constraint to growth. We have shown that these constraints only become important after large outgrowth of colonies (in the order of 5-log growth in Lactobacillus curvatus colonies), which depends on the initial inoculation density. Intra-colony interactions play an important role under these conditions. There is no large outgrowth of colonies when the initial inoculation densities are high and broth culture growth can be used to approximate colony growth.

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