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Effect of microstructure and initial cell conditions on thermal inactivation kinetics and sublethal injury of Listeria monocytogenes in fish-based food model systems

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Kjetil Aune

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kjetil.aune@nofima.no

Food microbiology ; Volume 84. p. 2019

Verheyen, Davy; Baka, Maria; Akkermans, Simen; Skåra, Torstein; Van Impe, Jan FM

The development of more accurate predictive models that describe the microbial kinetics of mild thermal treatments of foods requires knowledge concerning the influence of food microstructure and initial cell conditions on foodborne pathogens’ inactivation kinetics. The effect of food microstructure and initial cell conditions on thermal inactivation kinetics and sublethal injury (SI) of Listeria monocytogenes was investigated at 59, 64 and 69°C. Fish-based food model systems with different microstructures, possessing minimal compositional and physicochemical variations, were used. L. monocytogenes growth morphology had no significant influence on thermal inactivation kinetics. A gelled matrix resulted in a lower specific inactivation rate kmax and a higher residual cell population Nres, while the presence of fat droplets resulted in a higher kmax and did not influence Nres. SI was higher in viscous than in gelled systems and more prominent for cells that were grown inside the matrix. Hence, predictive thermal inactivation models could benefit from the inclusion of factors related to the nature of the food matrix and fat properties. Starting inactivation from cells that were grown inside the matrix, resulted in lower (i.e., fail-safe) kmax values and more uncertainty on Nres as compared to starting from cells grown at optimal conditions.

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