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J Food Prot. 2006 Aug;69(8):1865-9.

Efficacy of selected acidulants in pureed green beans inoculated with pathogens (Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Listeria monocytogenes).

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Food Products Association, 1350 1 Street N.W., Suite 300, Washington, DC 20005, USA.


Studies were conducted to evaluate the combined effect of selected acidulants (acetic, citric, malic, and phosphoric acid) and heat on foodborne pathogens (Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Listeria monocytogenes) in pureed green beans. To establish a consistent reference point for comparison, the molar concentrations of the acids remained constant while the acid-to-puree ratio, titratable acidity, and undissociated acid were either measured or calculated for a target acidified green beans at a pH of 3.8, 4.2, and 4.6. The D-values at 149 degrees F were used as the criteria for acid efficacy. Generally, acetic acid (puree, pH 3.8 and 4.2) represented the most effective acid with comparatively low D-values irrespective of the target microorganism. A 10-s heating at 149 degrees F inactivated approximately 10(6) CFU/ml of E. coli O157:H7 in pureed beans at pH 3.8. The efficacy of acetic acid is likely related to the elevated percent titratable acidity, undissociated acid, and acid-to-puree ratio. The effectiveness (which in this study represents the combined effect of acid and heat) of the remaining acids (citric, malic, and phosphoric) at puree pH values of 3.8 and 4.2 were statistically insignificant (alpha = 0.05). Surprisingly, acetic acid (puree, pH 4.6) appeared to be the least effective as compared to the other acids tested (citric, malic, and phosphoric) especially on E. coli O157:H7 cells, while L. monocytogenes had a similar resistance to all acids at puree pH 4.6. With the exception of citric acid (pH 3.8), acetic acid (pH 4.6), and malic acid (pH 3.8 and 4.6), which were statistically insignificant (P > 0.05), the D-values for L. monocytogenes were statistically different (P < or = 0.05) and higher than the D-values for E. coli under similar experimental conditions. A conservative process recommendation (referred to as the "safe harbor" process) was found sufficient and applicable to pureed green beans for the pH range studied.

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