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Int J Food Microbiol. 2011 Jan 31;145(1):258-66. doi: 10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2011.01.004. Epub 2011 Jan 8.

The importance of expressing antimicrobial agents on water basis in growth/no growth interface models: a case study for Zygosaccharomyces bailii.

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Laboratory of Food Microbiology and Food Preservation, Department of Food Safety and Food Quality, Ghent University, Coupure Links 653, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium.


In a previous study on Zygosaccharomyces bailii, three growth/no growth models have been developed, predicting growth probability of the yeast at different conditions typical for acidified foods (Dang, T.D.T., Mertens, L., Vermeulen, A., Geeraerd, A.H., Van Impe, J.F., Debevere, J., Devlieghere, F., 2010. Modeling the growth/no growth boundary of Z. bailii in acidic conditions: A contribution to the alternative method to preserve foods without using chemical preservatives. International Journal of Food Microbiology 137, 1-12). In these broth-based models, the variables were pH, water activity and acetic acid, with acetic acid concentration expressed in volume % on the total culture medium (i.e., broth). To continue the previous study, validation experiments were performed for 15 selected combinations of intrinsic factors to assess the performance of the model at 22°C (60days) in a real food product (ketchup). Although the majority of experimental results were consistent, some remarkable deviations between prediction and validation were observed, e.g., Z. bailii growth occurred in conditions where almost no growth had been predicted. A thorough investigation revealed that the difference between two ways of expressing acetic acid concentration (i.e., on broth basis and on water basis) is rather significant, particularly for media containing high amounts of dry matter. Consequently, the use of broth-based concentrations in the models was not appropriate. Three models with acetic acid concentration expressed on water basis were established and it was observed that predictions by these models well matched the validation results; therefore a "systematic error" in broth-based models was recognized. In practice, quantities of antimicrobial agents are often calculated based on the water content of food products. Hence, to assure reliable predictions and facilitate the application of models (developed from lab media with high dry matter contents), it is important to express antimicrobial agents' concentrations on a common basis-the water content. Reviews over other published growth/no growth models in literature are carried out and expressions of the stress factors' concentrations (on broth basis) found in these models confirm this finding.

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