Thermal resistance parameters of acid-adapted and unadapted Escherichia coli O157:H7 in apple-carrot juice blends: effect of organic acids and pH.J Food Prot. 2014 Apr; 77(4):567-73.JF
Numerous outbreaks involving fresh juices contaminated with Escherichia coli O157:H7 have occurred in the United States and around the world, raising concern for the safety of these products. Until now, only a few studies regarding the thermal tolerance of this pathogen in acidic juices over a wide range of pH values have been published. Therefore, the effect of varying the pH with different organic acids on the thermal inactivation of non-acid-adapted and acid-adapted E. coli O157:H7 (strain C7927) was determined. The decimal reduction times (D-values) and the change in temperature required for the thermal destruction curve to traverse 1 log cycle (z-values) were calculated for non-acid-adapted E. coli in an apple-carrot juice blend (80:20) adjusted to three pH values (3.3, 3.5, and 3.7) by the addition of lactic, malic, or acetic acid and at a pH of 4.5 adjusted with NaOH. Thermal parameters were also determined for acid-adapted cells in juices acidified with malic acid. The effect of the soluble solids content on the thermal tolerance was studied in samples with a pH of 3.7 at 9.4 to 11.5 °Brix. The D-values were determined at 54, 56, and 58 °C, and trials were conducted in triplicate. Non-acid-adapted E. coli exhibited the highest thermal tolerance at pH 4.5 (D-value at 54 °C [D54 °C] of 20 ± 4 min and z-value of 6.2 °C), although on average, the D-values increased significantly (P < 0.01) due to acid adaptation. In acidified juices, the highest tolerance was observed in acid-adapted E. coli in samples adjusted to pH 3.7 with malic acid (D54 °C of 9 ± 2 min and z-value of 5.4 °C) and the lowest in unadapted E. coli at pH 3.3 acidified with acetic acid (D58 °C of 0.03 ± 0.01 min and z-value of 10.4 °C). For juices acidified to the same endpoint pH with different acids, E. coli was found to be more tolerant in samples acidified with malic acid, followed by lactic and acetic acids. Increasing the soluble solids content from 9.4 to 11.5 °Brix showed no significant effect on the thermal tolerance of E. coli (P > 0.01). The data from this study will be useful for establishing critical limits for safe thermal processing of pH-controlled juices and similar products.