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Acidified calcium sulfate reduces L. monocytogenes.

Ready-to-eat products, such as frankfurters and lunch meats, are among the products most commonly associated with food-related listeriosis. The FDA has specificed zero tolerance for L. monocytogenes in these products. Even though cured ready-to-eat meat products contain sodium chloride and nitrite salts that have antimicrobial properties, these are not able to inhibit the growth of L. monocytogenes under refrigerated storage aconditions.

Acidified calcium sulfate is showing promise as a way to kill L. monocytogenes and keep lunch meats safer for consumers. When these products are cooked, they are pasteurized, and Listeria is killed. Assuming the products are cooked adequately, the risk of contamination comes from the surface. If the product is contaminated after cooking, there is a risk in eating that product without properly reheating it.

Some luncheon meats, such as bologna, are usually not cooked before they're eaten. Adding substances such as lactic acid and sodium lactate creates microbiological hurdles to organisms such as Listeria. But these are not considered entirely effective against the regrowth of the organism. Acidified calcium sulfate--an organic acid-calcium sulfate combination--is showing potential as a product that not only kills the Listeria on the surface of products, but also keeps it from coming back. It has Generally Recognized As Safe status.

In tests, researchers at Texas A&M University inoculated frankfurters manufactured under commercial processing conditions with a four-strain L. monocytogenes cocktail which contained 10 million microorganisms per gram. The frankfurters were then vacuum-packaged, stored under refrigeration at 40 F for 12 weeks and evaluated at two-week intervals.

Acidified calcium sulfate killed the Listeria on the product surface and also had a residual effect on that surface. Lactic acid initially reduced the number of organisms, but it didn't kill all of them. The Listeria started growing on the frankfurter again during refrigerated storage. Potassium lactate was not effective.

Investigators noted that, in tests, the numbers of L. monocytogenes were reduced by 5.8 logs on the surface of frankfurters dipped into acidified calcium sulfate. After this treatment, L. monocytogenes counts remained at the minimum level of detection--1.7 logs--during the 12-week storage period. There were only slight changes in surface and internal color. So acidified calcium sulfate could give meat processors another alternative to increase the safety of their products.

Further information. Jimmy Keeton, Texas A&M University, Department of Animal Science, Meat Science Section, College Station, TX 77843; phone: 979-845-3936; fax: 979-845-9454; email:
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Publication:Microbial Update International
Date:Apr 1, 2003
Previous Article:Investigate pathogen behavior kinetics in yellow-fat spreads.
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