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Botulism Challenge Studies of a Modified Atmosphere Package for Fresh Mussels: Inoculated Pack Studies

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A series of botulism challenge studies were performed to determine the possibility of production of botulinum toxin in mussels (Mytilus edulis) held under a commercial high-oxygen (60 to 65% O2), modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) condition. Spore mixtures of six strains of nonproteolytic Clostridium botulinum were introduced into mussel MAP packages receiving different packaging buffers with or without the addition of lactic acid bacteria. Dye studies and package flipping trials were conducted to ensure internalization of spores by packed mussels. Inoculated mussel packages were stored at normal (4°C) and abusive (12°C) temperatures for 21 and 13 days, respectively, which were beyond the packaged mussels' intended shelf life. Microbiological and chemical analyses were conducted at predetermined intervals (a total of five sampling times at each temperature), including total aerobic plate counts, C. botulinum counts, lactic acid bacterial counts, package headspace gas composition, pH of packaging buffer and mussel meat, and botulinum toxin assays of packaging buffer and mussel meat. Results revealed that C. botulinum inoculated in fresh mussels packed under MAP packaging did not produce toxin, even at an abusive storage temperature and when held beyond their shelf life. No evidence was found that packaging buffers or gas composition influenced the lack of botulinum toxin production in packed mussels.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Maine Shellfish R + D, 7 Creek Lane, Damariscotta, Maine 04543, USA. 2: National Institute for Microbial Forensics and Food and Agricultural Biosecurity, Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, Oklahoma State University, 127 Noble Research Center, Stillwater, Oklahoma 74078, USA 3: Center for Food Safety, University of Georgia, 1109 Experiment Street, Griffin, Georgia 30223-1797, USA

Publication date: June 1, 2012

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