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Int J Food Microbiol. 2004 Jan 1;90(1):15-22.

Effective control of Listeria monocytogenes by combination of nisin formulated and slowly released into a broth system.

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  • 1Department of Food Science, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 65 Dudley Road, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA.


In order to identify conditions for efficient food preservation by nisin, the sensitivity of Listeria monocytogenes to this preservative was studied under the following three model conditions: (1) the instantaneous addition of nisin into broth medium to simulate the formation of nisin in foods, (2) the slow delivery of nisin solution into broth medium using a pump to simulate the slow release of nisin from packaging materials to foods, (3) a combination of the two delivery methods. Based on the following results, we conclude that the antimicrobial effectiveness of nisin strongly depends on its mode of delivery. The instantaneous and slow methods for adding nisin inhibited L. monocytogenes, but over time of exposure, L. monocytogenes developed tolerance to nisin. Our data indicate that cells treated with instantaneously added nisin developed resistance to higher concentrations of nisin (200 IU/ml), compared to cells treated with slowly added nisin at the same total amount of the antimicrobial. Further studies indicated that nisin-tolerant cells recovered from treatments in which 200 IU/ml nisin was added instantaneously were likely to be mutants, which became resistant to the bacteriocin. In contrast, when 200 IU/ml of the antimicrobial was added slowly to the cells, only a temporary tolerance was developed; these cells became nisin-sensitive after passage through nisin-free medium. Due to the development of nisin-resistant cells, excessive amounts of nisin in the model system did not further inhibit L. monocytogenes. These results signify that excess nisin in foods does not necessarily improve the efficiency of controlling L. monocytogenes. Our data suggest that the combination of packaging material containing nisin used in conjunction with nisin-containing foods will provide the most effective means of preventing L. monocytogenes growth.

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