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Viability of Salmonella, Escherichia coli O157:H7, and Listeria monocytogenes in Yellow Fat Spreads as Affected by Storage Temperature

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A study was conducted to characterize the survival and inactivation kinetics of a five-serotype mixture of Salmonella (6.23 to 6.55 log10 CFU per 3.5-ml or 4-g sample), a five-strain mixture of Escherichia coli O157:H7 (5.36 to 6.14 log10 CFU per 3.5-ml or 4-g sample), and a six-strain mixture of Listeria monocytogenes (5.91 to 6.18 log10 CFU per 3.5-ml or 4- g sample) inoculated into seven yellow fat spreads (one margarine, one butter-margarine blend, and five dairy and nondairy spreads and toppings) after formulation and processing and stored at 4.4, 10, and 21°C for up to 94 days. Neither Salmonella nor E. coli O157:H7 grew in any of the test products. The time required for the elimination of each pathogen depended on the product and the storage temperature. Death was more rapid at 21°C than at 4.4 or 10°C. Depending on the product, the time required for the elimination of viable cells at 21°C ranged from 5 to 7 days to >94 days for Salmonella, from 3 to 5 days to 28 to 42 days for E. coli O157:H7, and from 10 to 14 days to >94 days for L. monocytogenes. Death was most rapid in a water-continuous spray product (pH 3.66, 4.12% salt) and least rapid in a butter-margarine blend (pH 6.66, 1.88% salt). E. coli O157:H7 died more rapidly than did Salmonella or L. monocytogenes regardless of storage temperature. Salmonella survived longer in high-fat (≥61%) products than in products with lower fat contents. The inhibition of growth is attributed to factors such as acidic pH, salt content, the presence of preservatives, emulsion characteristics, and nutrient deprivation. L. monocytogenes did not grow in six of the test products, but its population increased between 42 and 63 days in a buttermargarine blend stored at 10°C and between 3 and 7 days when the blend was stored at 21°C. On the basis of the experimental parameters examined in this study, traditional margarine and spreads not containing butter are not ''potentially hazardous foods'' in that they do not support the growth of Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, or L. monocytogenes.


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Center for Food Safety and Department of Food Science and Technology, University of Georgia, 1109 Experiment Street, Griffin, Georgia 30223-1797, USA

Publication date: April 1, 2003

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