International Journal of Food Microbiology vol:124 issue:1 pages:79-90
Microbial spoilage of shelf-stable acidified sauces is predominantly caused by lactic acid bacteria and yeasts. A specific spoilage yeast in these products is Zygosaccharomyces bailii, as this fructophilic, osmotolerant, and weak acid resistant yeast is difficult to control.
A growth/no growth model was developed describing the influence of (i) pH in a range from pH 3.0 to pH 5.0 (5 levels), (ii) acetic acid in a range from 0 to 3.5% (w/v), and (iii) lactic acid in a range from 0 to 3.0% (w/v). aw was fixed at a level of 0.95 which is representative for acidified sauces with high sugar content. Modified Sabouraud medium was inoculated at ± 104 CFU/ml, incubated at 30 °C and growth was assessed by optical density measurements. All combinations of environmental conditions were tested in at least twelve replicates, yielding precise values for the probability of growth.
Results showed that replacing acetic acid by lactic acid, which has a milder taste, may imply some risks on food spoilage because, under some conditions, stimulation of growth by lactic acid was observed. This stimulation had also consequences on the model development: (i) only ordinary logistic regression models were able to describe this phenomenon due to their flexible behaviour, (ii) it was necessary to split up the data set into two subsets to have the best description of the obtained data. Two different ordinary logistic regression models were fitted on these data sets taking either the total acid concentration as one of the explanatory variables or differentiating between the undissociated and dissociated acid concentrations.
The obtained models were compared with the CIMSCEE code [CIMSCEE, 1992. Code for the production of microbiologically safe and stable emulsified and non-emulsified sauces containing acetic acid. Comité des Industries des Mayonnaise et Sauces Condimentaires, de la Communauté Economique Européenne, Brussels, Belgium], a formula which is nowadays often used by the food industry to predict the stability of acidified products based on the undissociated acetic acid, NaCl and sugars concentration. Comparing this formula and the newly developed models showed that the CIMSCEE code made a slight underestimation of the growth probability. Advantages of the newly developed models are the description of the gradual transition zone between growth and no growth and the incorporation of the effect of lactic acid, alone or in combination with acetic acid.