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Int J Food Microbiol. 1995 Apr;25(2):141-51.

Lactic acid inhibition of the growth of spoilage bacteria and cold tolerant pathogens on pork.

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Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Lacombe Research Station, Alberta, Canada.


The antibacterial effects of a 3% solution of lactic acid at 55 degrees C were assessed, by examining aerobic bacterial growth on artificially-inoculated pork fat and lean tissue. Discs of fat or lean tissues, each of 10 cm2 surface area, were aseptically excised from pork Longissimus dorsi muscle and inoculated with the cold tolerant pathogens Listeria monocytogenes 4b Scott A no. 3, Yersinia enterocolitica 0:4,32 or Aeromonas hydrophila ATCC 7966, or with the wild type spoilage bacteria Pseudomonas fragi or Brochothrix thermosphacta. After inoculation, each meat disc was immersed in water or lactic acid for 15 s and aerobic bacterial growth followed during 15 days of storage at 4 degrees C. P. fragi and B. thermosphacta grew on both fat and lean, but the pathogens grew on fat tissue only and A. hydrophila did not survive on lean. Lactic acid reduced all test bacteria on fat to below detectable levels within 4 days of treatment and no bacteria could be recovered from acid-treated fat surfaces for the remainder of the 15-day storage interval. Bacteria attached to lean were generally more resistant to lactic acid. In some instances the acid was bacteriostatic (P. fragi, L. monocytogenes) while in others the population declined at a greatly reduced rate as compared with a similar population on fat (B. thermosphacta, Y. enterocolitica). A. hydrophila was equally sensitive to lactic acid on lean and fat. Depending upon the tested strain, tissue type and storage time, maximum reductions in the number of bacteria recovered from acid treated pork ranged from 1 to 8 log cycles. The high bactericidal efficacy of lactic acid applied to pork fat was attributable to a low tissue pH, which varied from 3.49 to 4.41 during the 15 days of aerobic storage.

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