Journal: Letters in Applied Microbiology, vol. 35, p. 433–438, 2002
International Standard Numbers:
Open Access: none
Aims: To assess survival, growth and toxin production of spore-forming bacteria in sous vide products exposed to a relatively high heat treatment.
Methods and Results: During a three-year period, 2168 sous vide-processed, commercially available ready-made meals with a shelf life of 3-5 weeks were examined. The products were stored at 4degreesC for the first 1/3 and at 7degreesC for the remaining 2/3 of their shelf life period. Three-fourths of the samples had less than 10 bacteria per gram the day after production, and none had more than 1000. Similar numbers were found at the end of the shelf life when stored as described above. At abuse temperature (20degreesC), the number of bacteria increased to 10(6)-10 (7) cfu g(-1) 7 d after production. A total of 350 isolates of Bacillus spp. were collected, but no Clostridium strains were detected. Only 11 of the 113 tested strains were able to grow at 7degreesC in broth, and none of the psychrotrophic strains were able to produce substantial amounts of toxins causing food poisoning.
Conclusion: The health risk of these products is small as long as the temperature during storage is low. For microbial testing of the end products, traditional plating will suffice.