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Survival of Enterobacter sakazakii in Powdered Infant Formula as Affected by Composition, Water Activity, and Temperature

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A study was done to determine survival characteristics of Enterobacter sakazakii in four milk-based and two soybean-based powdered infant formulas. A 10-strain mixture of E. sakazakii was inoculated into the six infant formulas at water activity (aw) 0.25 to 0.30, 0.31 to 0.33, and 0.43 to 0.50 to give low (0.80 log CFU/g) and high (4.66 to 4.86 log CFU/g) populations. At an initial population of 0.80 log CFU/g, E. sakazakii was detected by enrichment in six of six, four of six, and one of six formulas stored for 12 months at 4, 21, and 30°C, respectively. In four of six formulas at aw values of 0.25 to 0.30, initially high populations decreased significantly (P ≤ 0.05), although by less than 1 log CFU/g, within 6 months at 4°C. Populations decreased significantly in all formulas in the aw range of 0.25 to 0.50 during storage for 1 month at 21 or 30°C and again between 1 and 6 months in most formulas. Significant reductions occurred between 6 and 12 months in some formulas. At all storage temperatures, reductions in populations tended to be greater in formulas at aw 0.43 to 0.50 than in formulas at aw 0.25 to 0.30. The rate of inactivation of E. sakazakii in formulas was not markedly influenced by formula composition. Cells from mucoid and nonmucoid colonies formed by two strains on violet red bile glucose agar supplemented with pyruvate were inoculated into a milk-based powdered infant formula and a soybean-based powdered infant formula having a high aw range of 0.43 to 0.86 and stored at 4, 21, and 30°C for up to 36 weeks. With few exceptions, populations of both strains decreased significantly in both formulas within 2 weeks at all temperatures; rates of death increased with increased aw and storage temperature. The presence of mucoidal extracellular materials on the surface of E. sakazakii cells was not associated with protection against death. This study shows that the retention of viability of E. sakazakii in powdered infant formula is affected by aw and temperature. Increases in both parameters cause an increase in the rate of death.

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: 2007-07-01

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