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Effect of Chemicals on the Microbial Evolution in Foods

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In contrast with most chemical hazardous compounds, the concentration of food pathogens changes during processing, storage, and meal preparation, making it difficult to estimate the number of microorganisms or the concentration of their toxins at the moment of ingestion by the consumer. These changes are attributed to microbial proliferation, survival, and/or inactivation and must be considered when exposure to a microbial hazard is assessed. The number of microorganisms can also change as a result of physical removal, mixing of food ingredients, partitioning of a food product, or cross-contamination (M. J. Nauta. 2002. Int. J. Food Microbiol. 73:297–304). Predictive microbiology, i.e., relating these microbial evolutionary patterns to environmental conditions, can therefore be considered a useful tool for microbial risk assessment, especially in the exposure assessment step. During the early development of the field (late 1980s and early 1990s), almost all research was focused on the modeling of microbial growth over time and the influence of temperature on this growth. Later, modeling of the influence of other intrinsic and extrinsic parameters garnered attention. Recently, more attention has been given to modeling of the effects of chemicals on microbial inactivation and survival. This article is an overview of different applied strategies for modeling the effect of chemical compounds on microbial populations. Various approaches for modeling chemical growth inhibition, the growth–no growth interface, and microbial inactivation by chemicals are reviewed.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Food Technology and Nutrition, Laboratory of Food Microbiology and Food Preservation, Ghent University, Coupure Links 653, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium 2: Department of Chemical Engineering, BioTeC-Bioprocess Technology and Control, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, W. de Croylaan 46, B-3001 Leuven, Belgium

Publication date: September 1, 2004

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    The Journal of Food Protection (JFP) is a refereed monthly publication. Each issue contains scientific research and authoritative review articles reporting on a variety of topics in food science pertaining to food safety and quality. The Journal is internationally recognized as the leading publication in the field of food microbiology with a readership exceeding 11,000 scientists from 70 countries. The Journal of Food Protection is indexed in Index Medicus, Current Contents, BIOSIS, PubMed, Medline, and many others.

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