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Effect of Cooling on Clostridium perfringens in Pea Soup

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Foods associated with Clostridium perfringens outbreaks are usually abused after cooking. Because of their short generation times, C. perfringens spores and cells can grow out to high levels during improper cooling. Therefore, the potential of C. perfringens to multiply in Dutch pea soup during different cooling times was investigated. Tubes of preheated pea soup (50°C) were inoculated with cocktails of cells or heat-activated spores of this pathogen. The tubes were linearly cooled to 15°C in time spans of 3, 5, 7.5, and 10 h and were subsequently stored in a refrigerator at 3 or 7°C for up to 84 h. Cell numbers increased by 1-log cycle during the 3-h cooling period and reached their maximum after 10 h of cooling. Subsequent refrigeration hardly reduced cell numbers. Cooling of 3.75 liters of pea soup in an open pan showed that this amount of pea soup cooled from 50 to 15°C in 5 h, which will allow a more than 10-fold increase in cell numbers. These findings emphasize the need of good hygienic practices and quick cooling of heated foods after preparation.


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Laboratory of Food Microbiology, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands

Publication date: February 1, 2004

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