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Establishing Equivalence for Microbial-Growth-Inhibitory Effects ("Iso-Hurdle Rules") by Analyzing Disparate Listeria monocytogenes Data with a Gamma-Type Predictive Model

Pujol, Laure, Kan-King-Yu, Denis, Le Marc, Yvan, Johnston, Moira D., Rama-Heuzard, Florence, Guillou, Sandrine, McClure, Peter, Membré, Jeanne-Marie
Applied and environmental microbiology 2012 v.78 no.4 pp. 1069-1080
Listeria monocytogenes, acetic acid, control methods, databases, experimental design, food pathogens, industry, microbial growth, models, outputs, salts, sorbic acid, temperature
Preservative factors act as hurdles against microorganisms by inhibiting their growth; these are essential control measures for particular food-borne pathogens. Different combinations of hurdles can be quantified and compared to each other in terms of their inhibitory effect ("iso-hurdle"). We present here a methodology for establishing microbial iso-hurdle rules in three steps: (i) developing a predictive model based on existing but disparate data sets, (ii) building an experimental design focused on the iso-hurdles using the model output, and (iii) validating the model and the iso-hurdle rules with new data. The methodology is illustrated with Listeria monocytogenes. Existing data from industry, a public database, and the literature were collected and analyzed, after which a total of 650 growth rates were retained. A gamma-type model was developed for the factors temperature, pH, aw, and acetic, lactic, and sorbic acids. Three iso-hurdle rules were assessed (40 logcount curves generated): salt replacement by addition of organic acids, sorbic acid replacement by addition of acetic and lactic acid, and sorbic acid replacement by addition of lactic/acetic acid and salt. For the three rules, the growth rates were equivalent in the whole experimental domain (γ from 0.1 to 0.5). The lag times were also equivalent in the case of mild inhibitory conditions (γ ≥ 0.2), while they were longer in the presence of salt than acids under stress conditions (γ < 0.2). This methodology allows an assessment of the equivalence of inhibitory effects without intensive data generation; it could be applied to develop milder formulations which guarantee microbial safety and stability.