Academic article

Effect of relevant environmental stresses on survival of enterohemorrhagic Esherichia coli in dry-fermented sausage

McLeod, Anette; Måge, Ingrid; Heir, Even; Axelsson, Lars; Holck, Askild Lorentz

Publication details

Journal: International journal of food microbiology, vol. 229, p. 15–23, 2016

Publisher: Elsevier

International Standard Numbers:
Printed: 0168-1605
Electronic: 1879-3460

Open Access: none


Dry-fermented sausages (DFSs) have been linked to several serious foodborne outbreaks of enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC). The ability of pathogens to utilize adaptive responses to different stressful conditions intended to control their growth in foods, food preparation and production processes may enhance their survival. In certain cases, induced tolerance to one type of stress may lead to enhanced resistance to the applied stress as well as to other stresses. We exposed two EHEC strains, MF3582 of serotype O157:H − and MF5554 of serogroup O145, to different stresses commonly encountered during a production process. The two EHEC strains, previously shown to have different abilities to survive DFS production process conditions, were subjected to low temperatures (4 °C and 12 °C), 5% NaCl or 1% lactic acid for 6 days prior to being added to sausage batters. Survival of EHEC was recorded in salami of two recipes, fermented at two temperatures (20 °C and 30 °C). The results showed that recipe type had the largest impact on EHEC reductions where Moderate recipe (MR) salami batters containing increased levels of NaCl, glucose and NaNO2 provided enhanced EHEC reductions in salami (2.6 log10) compared to Standard recipe (SR) salami (1.7 log10). Effects of pre-exposure stresses were dependent both on strain and recipe. While acid adaptation of MF5554 provided enhanced log10 reductions from 2.0 to 3.0 in MR sausages, adaptation to a combination of acid and salt stress showed the opposite effect in SR sausages with reductions of only 1.1 log10 as compared to the average of 1.8 log10 for the other SR sausages. Otherwise, the salt and acid adaptation single stresses had relatively small effects on EHEC survival through the DFS production process and subsequent storage and freeze/thaw treatments. Growing cells and cells frozen in batter survived poorly in MR sausages with an average reduction of 3.4 and 3.2 log10, respectively. The reductions of EHEC after storage of DFS increased with higher temperature and storage time. Up to 3.7 log10 additional reduction was obtained when MF3582 was stored for 2 months at 20 °C. In conclusion, adaptation of EHEC to acid, salt and low temperatures prior to being introduced in a DFS production process has limited, but strain dependent effects on EHEC reductions. Producers should avoid conditions leading to acid and salt adapted cells that can contaminate the sausage batter. Recipe parameters had the largest impact on EHEC reductions while storage at 20 °C is effective for enhanced reductions in finished products.