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The heat resistance of Listeria monocytogenes was determined in 0.1 M KH2PO4 buffer at three temperatures (50, 55, and 60°C), three pH levels (5, 6, and 7), and three NaCl concentrations (0, 2, and 4%). Survival curves were fit using nonlinear regression
with a modified Gompertz equation. The Gompertz equation is capable of fitting survival curves which are linear, those which display an initial lag region followed by a linear region, and those which are sigmoidal. Parameter estimates were used to describe the lag region, death rate, and the
tailing region of a survival curve. These estimates were also used to predict single and interactive effects of temperature, pH, and percentage of NaCl on the log surviving fraction (LSF) of bacteria. Interactions among these variables significantly (P < .05) affected the LSF. Generally,
increased pH or NaCl concentration lead to an increased (P < .05) LSF, whereas increased time or temperature lead to a decreased (P < .05) LSF. All multiple factor interactions significantly (P < .05) affected the LSF. These interactions differed depending on
the heating medium and the region of the survival curve. The correlation of observed LSF and predicted LSF (R2 = .89) indicated that the Gompertz equation was in close agreement with the observations. This study demonstrated that the Gompertz equation and nonlinear regression
can be used as an effective means to predict survival curve shape and response to heat of L. monocytogenes in many different environmental conditions.
Department of Food Science, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia 24061 USA 2:
Department of Biostatistics, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia 23298 USA
Publication date: September 1, 1995
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