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Microwave Heating Inactivates Shiga Toxin (Stx2) in Reconstituted Fat-Free Milk and Adversely Affects the Nutritional Value of Cell Culture Medium

Reuven Rasooly, Bradley Hernlem, Xiaohua He, Mendel Friedman
Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 2014 v.62 no.14 pp. 3301-3305
Shiga toxin, microwave cooking, Shiga-like toxin 2, bacteria, bacterial contamination, cell culture, culture media, energy, food contamination, gel electrophoresis, heat, kidneys, microwave treatment, monkeys, nutrients, nutritive value, pasteurization, skim milk, toxicity
Microwave exposure is a convenient and widely used method for defrosting, heating, and cooking numerous foods. Microwave cooking is also reported to kill pathogenic microorganisms that often contaminate food. In this study, we tested whether microwaves would inactivate the toxicity of Shiga toxin 2 (Sta2) added to 5% reconstituted fat-free milk administered to monkey kidney Vero cells. Heating of milk spiked with Stx2 in a microwave oven using a 10% duty cycle (cycle period of 30 s) for a total of 165 kJ energy or thermal heating (pasteurization), widely used to kill pathogenic bacteria, did not destroy the biological effect of the toxin in the Vero cells. However, conventional heating of milk to 95 degrees C for 5 min or at an increased microwave energy of 198 kJ reduced the Stx2 activity. Gel electrophoresis showed that exposure of the protein toxin to high-energy microwaves resulted in the degradation of its original structure. In addition, two independent assays showed that exposure of the cell culture medium to microwave energy of 198 kJ completely destroyed the nutritional value of the culture medium used to grow the Vero cells, possibly by damaging susceptible essential nutrients present in the medium. These observations suggest that microwave heating has the potential to destroy the Shiga toxin in liquid food.