Skip to main content
ARS Home » Northeast Area » Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania » Eastern Regional Research Center » Residue Chemistry and Predictive Microbiology Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #308402

Title: Effect of acidified sorbate solutions on the lag phase durations and growth rates of Listeria monocytogenes on meat surfaces

item Hwang, Cheng An
item Juneja, Vijay
item Huang, Lihan

Submitted to: Journal of Food Protection
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/29/2015
Publication Date: 6/1/2015
Publication URL:
Citation: Hwang, C., Juneja, V.K., Huang, L. 2015. Effect of acidified sorbate solutions on the lag phase durations and growth rates of Listeria monocytogenes on meat surfaces. Journal of Food Protection. 78(6):1154-1160.

Interpretive Summary: The contamination of Listeria monocytogenes, a foodborne pathogen, in ready-to-eat meat products is a public health hazard due to its ability to cause severe illness. This study examined the effects of concentrations and pH of sorbate on controlling the growth of L. monocytogenes on meat surfaces. Results identified the specific levels of concentration and pH of sorbate that prevented the growth or extent of growth-delay of this pathogen on meat surfaces. The findings will help the meat manufacturers to select the appropriate concentrations and pH for using sorbate as a surface, post-processing antimicrobial treatment to reduce L. monocytogenes hazard associated with meat products.

Technical Abstract: The surfaces of ready-to-eat meats are susceptible to post-processing contamination by Listeria monocytogenes. This study quantified the lag phase durations (LPD) and growth rates (GR) of L. monocytogenes on the surfaces of cooked ham as affected by sorbate solutions of different concentrations and pH. Slices of cooked ham inoculated with a 5-strain mixture of L. monocytogenes (ca. 10**3 CFU/g) were surface-treated with sorbate solutions at 0-4% at pH 4.0-6.5, vacuum packaged, and stored at 4-12 degree Celsius for up to 45 days. The LPD and GR of L. monocytogenes were used to develop response surface models. The models estimated that the LPD of L. monocytogenes in samples treated with pH 4.0-5.5 solutions (no sorbate) were 0-11 days and the GR were 0.25-0.36 log CFU/day, respectively, at 4 degree Celsius. With the treatments of 2% and 4% sorbate, the LPD were estimated to be extended to 2-26 days and 34- greater than 45 days and the GR were reduced to 0.15-0.30 and 0-0.19 log CFU/day, respectively. At 4 degree Celsius, increasing sorbate concentration by 1% to 2, 3, and 4% at pH 5.5-4.0 led to an extension of LPD for 2-11, 10-19, and 18-27 days, while the GR were reduced by 0.037-0.055, 0.048-0.066, and 0.060-0.078 log/day, respectively. Sorbate also extended the LPD and reduced the GR of L. monocytogenes at temperatures of 8 and 12 degree Celsius. Results indicate that the sorbate concentration and pH are significant factors for reducing the LPD and GR of L. monocytogenes and sorbate combined with low pH has potential for use as a surface treatment to control the growth of L. monocytogenes on meat surfaces.