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Frankfurter sausage composition, processing impact Listeria monocytogenes growth dynamics.

Ready-to-eat meat products, such as frankfurter sausages, are often linked to cases of listeriosis, the disease caused by Listeria monocytogenes. Frankfurter sausages vary, from manufacturer to manufacturer, in many aspects, namely in terms of their composition, physicochemical characteristics, background flora, processing technology and organoleptic characteristics.

Some of these factors have been widely investigated for how they influence the growth of L. monocytogenes in this product. However, research is lacking on the specific effects of composition and processing technology on L. monocytogenes dynamics between two sausages.

Belgian scientists studied the growth dynamics of L. monocytogenes on two types of frankfurter sausages, fresh and in-brine, at constant storage temperatures of 4 C, 8 C and 12 C. Additionally, the physicochemical and compositional characteristics of both types of sausages were analyzed.

In order to study the isolated effect of preservatives, L. monocytogenes growth dynamics, at 4 C and 30 C, were examined in two types of liquid systems. These were prepared with the same level of preservatives as were in the two types of sausages. Results indicated that there were no significant differences in the physicochemical characteristics of the two types of sausages. But the scientists detected statistically significant variability in the concentration of preservatives.

In liquid systems, the maximum specific growth rate remained unaffected by the preservatives, but the lag phase was longer in the system mimicking the fresh sausages. In sausages, the in-brine type had a two-fold higher specific growth rate at all temperatures and a shorter lag phase at 4 C.

The presence or absence of sausage skin, which was found to be impermeable to L. monocytogenes cells and which was present in the fresh sausage, could explain those differences.

This research highlights the influence of processing factors, and specifically of the sausage casing, on the growth dynamics of L. monocytogenes. It appears that an edible membrane, which is heat-resistant and impermeable to bacterial cells, could be a hurdle strategy employed to control microbiological product safety.

Further information. Jan F.M. Van Impe, BioTeC--Chemical and Biochemical Process Technology and Control, Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Leuven, Willem de Croylaan 46, B-3001 Leuven, Belgium; phone: +32 16 32 14 66; fax: +32 16 32 29 91; email:

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Publication:Emerging Food R&D Report
Date:Nov 1, 2016
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