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Determination of 5-log reduction times for Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella enterica, or Listeria monocytogenes in acidified foods with pH 3.5 or 3.8

Breidt, F., Jr., Kay, K., Cook, J., Osborne, J., Ingham, B., Arritt, F.
Journal of food protection 2013 v.76 no.7 pp. 1245
Escherichia coli O157, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella enterica, acetic acid, acid tolerance, acid treatment, acidity, bacteria, bacterial contamination, benzoic acid, food contamination, food preservatives, ingredients, mayonnaise, pH, pathogens, safety factor, spoilage
A critical factor in ensuring the safety of acidified foods is the establishment of a thermal process that assures the destruction of acid-resistant vegetative pathogenic and spoilage bacteria. For acidified foods such as dressings and mayonnaises with pH values of 3.5 or higher, the high water phase acidity (acetic acid of 1.5 to 2.5% or higher) can contribute to lethality, but there is a lack of data showing how the use of common ingredients such as acetic acid and preservatives, alone or in combination, can result in a 5-log reduction for strains of Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella enterica, and Listeria monocytogenes in the absence of a postpackaging pasteurization step. In this study, we determined the times needed at 10°C to achieve a 5-log reduction of E. coli O157:H7, S. enterica, and L. monocytogenes in pickling brines with a variety of acetic and benzoic acid combinations at pH 3.5 and 3.8. Evaluation of 15 different acid-pH combinations confirmed that strains of E. coli O157:H7 were significantly more acid resistant than strains of S. enterica and L. monocytogenes. Among the acid conditions tested, holding times of 4 days or less could achieve a 5-log reduction for vegetative pathogens at pH 3.5 with 2.5% acetic acid or at pH 3.8 with 2.5% acetic acid containing 0.1% benzoic acid. These data indicate the efficacy of benzoic acid for reducing the time necessary to achieve a 5-log reduction in target pathogens and may be useful for supporting process filings and the determination of critical controls for the manufacture of acidified foods.