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Growth and Toxin Production by Clostridium botulinum in Steamed Rice Aseptically Packed under Modified Atmosphere

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Sales and consumption of ready-to-eat aseptic steamed rice products have increased manyfold in Japan over the past 10 years. To determine the safety of steamed rice (water content 60%, pH 6.5) aseptically packaged under modified atmosphere, challenge studies were performed using a mixture of Clostridium botulinum proteolytic strains (five strains of type A and five strains of type B). Atmospheric conditions of 0 and 15% oxygen (with 5% CO2 and 5% N2 as the balance) were used. No neurotoxins were detected, and organoleptically acceptable conditions persisted for 24 weeks at 15% oxygen conditions. However, botulinum neurotoxin was found in one of three samples at 12 weeks and in one of two samples at 24 weeks at 0% oxygen and 30°C. When samples were inoculated with C. botulinum with amylase (0% oxygen), neurotoxin and sample spoilage was detected after only 1 week of storage. Challenge studies using proteolytic strains of C. botulinum mixed with Bacillus subtilis (amylase formers) also were performed with atmosphere conditions of oxygen at 0, 5, 10, and 15% (with 5% CO2 and 5% N2 as the balance). Under 10 and 15% oxygen conditions, neurotoxin was not detected after 1 week of storage, but sample spoilage was detected after the same period. Under 0% oxygen conditions, neurotoxin was detected at 1 week, but the sample remained organoleptically acceptable even after 2 weeks of storage. Both neurotoxin and sample spoilage were detected at 1 week of storage under 5% oxygen conditions. Based on these results, cocontamination of amylase-producing Bacillus with C. botulinum would increase the risk of foodborne botulism when aseptic rice samples are packed under low-oxygen conditions (<5%). Therefore, to ensure the safety of these products, packing under atmospheric containing more than 10% oxygen is recommended.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Food Science and Technology, Faculty of Marine Science, Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, Konan 4-5-7, Minato, Tokyo 108-8477, Japan 2: Food Product R and D Group, Research Institute, Kagome Co., Ltd., Naka-ku Nagoya, Aichi 460-0003, Japan 3: Research and Development Section, Nitto Aliment Co., Ltd., Shibata, Nigata 957-0356, Japan

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