Submitted to: Journal of Food Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/14/2007
Publication Date: 9/1/2007
Citation: Perez Diaz, I.M., Kelling, R., Hale, S., Breidt, F., McFeeters, R.F. 2007. Lactobacilli and tartrazine as causative agents of a red colored spoilage in cucumber pickle products. Journal of Food Science. 72(7):M240-M245.
Interpretive Summary: The cucumber pickling industry has sporadically experienced spoilage outbreaks in fermented cucumber products characterized by development of red color on the surface of the cucumbers. This investigation shows that this spoilage is caused by the degradation of yellow food coloring (FD&C yellow no. 5, also called tartrazine) by lactic acid bacteria. Lactic acid bacteria carry out the normal cucumber fermentation. However, the species of lactic acid bacteria found to be responsible for this spoilage (Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus paracasei) are not normally found in cucumber fermentations. The development of this spoilage was successfully prevented by use of sodium benzoate as a microbial inhibitor.
Technical Abstract: The cucumber pickling industry has sporadically experienced spoilage outbreaks in fermented cucumber products characterized by development of red color on the surface of the cucumbers. Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus paracasei were isolated from two outbreaks of this spoilage which occurred about 15 years apart. Both organisms were shown to produce this spoilage when inoculated into pickled cucumbers while concomitantly degrading the azo dye tartrazine (FD&C yellow no. 5), which is used as a yellow coloring in commercial pickled cucumber products. The red color does not occur in the absence of tartrazine, nor when turmeric is used as a yellow coloring in the pickles. Addition of sodium benzoate to hamburger dill pickles prevented growth of these lactic acid bacteria and the development of the red spoilage.