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Listeria monocytogenes Survival in Refrigerator Dill Pickles

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Listeria monocytogenes can survive and grow in refrigerated foods with pH values of approximately 4.0 to 5.0 and salt concentrations of 3 to 4%. Home-fermented refrigerator dill pickles fit this description. Contamination of this product with L. monocytogenes could cause serious problems because these items are not heated prior to consumption. L. monocytogenes survival and growth patterns were investigated in refrigerator dill pickles at 1.3, 3.8, and 7.6% salt concentrations. Pickling cucumbers were dipped into an inoculum of L. monocytogenes, brine mixtures were added, and cucumbers were held at room temperature for 1 week and then refrigerated for up to 3 months. The pH, NaCl percentage, titratable acidity percentage, and total populations of Listeria and aerobic, psychrotrophic, and lactic acid bacteria were measured at the addition of brine, after 2, 4, and 7 days of storage at room temperature, and then weekly during refrigerated storage. The initial Listeria population was 5.4 to 5.6 log CFU/cm2 on cucumber surfaces and 3.9 to 4.6 log CFU/g internally. There was an approximate 0.3- to 1-log increase during room temperature fermentation followed by a population decline during refrigerator storage, with a greater decrease in the brines with the highest NaCl concentration. Up to 49 days, the internal tissue of pickles with 1.3, 3.8, or 7.6% salt concentrations were presumptively positive for L. monocytogenes by the enrichment method, and at 91 days the surfaces of such pickles were still positive for L. monocytogenes. Populations of total aerobes and lactic acid bacteria increased during room temperature storage and decreased gradually during refrigerated storage.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Food Science and Technology, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602, USA 2: Department of Foods and Nutrition, National Center for Home Food Preservation, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602, USA

Publication date: November 1, 2005

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