Challenge Studies with Clostridium botulinum in a Sous-Vide Spaghetti and Meat-Sauce Product

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Challenge studies were carried out to evaluate the safety of a reformulated sous-vide processed spaghetti and meat-sauce product (aw 0.992–0.972, pH 4.5–6) inoculated with Clostridium botulinum types A and B spores. Following processing at 75°C for 36 min (equivalent to a 13 D process for Streptococcus faecium), samples were stored at 15°C and analyzed at selected time intervals for toxin production and visible signs of spoilage. Toxin was detected in samples of pH > 5.5 after 14–21 days and in products of pH 5.25 after 35 days. Toxin was not detected in any samples of pH < 5.25 within 42 days storage at 15°C. All products of pH 5.75 and 6 were visibly spoiled, i.e., swollen due to CO2 production, prior to toxigenesis. However, for products of pH 5.5 and 5.25, toxigenesis preceded spoilage. Subsequent studies were done to test the effect of additional salt (1–3% w/w) on the safety of a product of pH 5.5 at mild temperature-abuse storage conditions (i.e., 15°C). Toxin production was not delayed in samples containing < 1.5% added salt, while > 1.5% salt (w/w) prevented toxin production throughout the 42-day storage period at 15°C. Microwave heating of products for 5–10 min at full or half power in a domestic microwave (800 watts) inactivated the preformed toxin in all samples.


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Food Science and Agricultural Chemistry, McGill University (Macdonald Campus), 21,111 Lakeshore Road, Ste. Anne de Bellevue, Quebec H9X 3V9, Canada 2: Bureau of Microbial Hazards, Health Protection Branch, Tunney's Pasture, Ottawa, Ontario, KIA OL2, Canada

Publication date: March 1, 1995

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