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Antimicrobial Effects of Weak Acids on the Survival of Escherichia coli O157:H7 under Anaerobic Conditions

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Abstract:

Outbreaks of disease due to vegetative bacterial pathogens associated with acid foods (such as apple cider) have raised concerns about acidified vegetables and related products that have a similar pH (3.2 to 4.0). Escherichia coli O157:H7 and related strains of enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) have been identified as the most acid resistant vegetative pathogens in these products. Previous research has shown that the lack of dissolved oxygen in many hermetically sealed acid or acidified food products can enhance survival of EHEC compared with their survival under aerobic conditions. We compared the antimicrobial effects of several food acids (acetic, malic, lactic, fumaric, benzoic, and sorbic acids and sulfite) on a cocktail of EHEC strains under conditions representative of non–heat-processed acidified vegetables in hermetically sealed jars, holding the pH (3.2) and ionic strength (0.342) constant under anaerobic conditions. The overall antimicrobial effectiveness of weak acids used in this study was ranked, from most effective to least effective: sulfite > benzoic acid > sorbic acid > fumaric acid > L- and D-lactic acid > acetic acid > malic acid. These rankings were based on the estimated protonated concentrations required to achieve a 5-log reduction in EHEC after 24 h of incubation at 30°C. This study provides information that can be used to formulate safer acid and acidified food products and provides insights about the mode of action of weak acids against EHEC.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-10-404

Affiliations: 1: Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences, 400 Dan Allen Drive, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina 27695-7624, USA 2: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, South Atlantic Area, Food Science Research Unit, 322 Schaub Hall, Box 7624, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina 27695-7624, USA. fred.breidt@ars.usda.gov 3: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, South Atlantic Area, Food Science Research Unit, 322 Schaub Hall, Box 7624, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina 27695-7624, USA 4: Department of Statistics, 5238 SAS Hall, Box 8203, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina 27695, USA

Publication date: June 1, 2011

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    First published in 1937, the Journal of Food Protection®, 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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