International Journal of Food Microbiology vol:152 issue:3 pages:162-167
Acidothermophilic bacteria like Alicyclobacillus acidoterrestris and Bacillus coagulans can cause spoilage of heat-processed acidic foods because they form spores with very high heat resistance and can grow at low pH. The objective of this work was to study the germination and inactivation of A. acidoterrestris and B. coagulans spores by high hydrostatic pressure (HP) treatment at temperatures up to 60°C and both at low and neutral pH. In a first experiment, spores suspended in buffers at pH 4.0, 5.0 and 7.0 were processed for 10min at different pressures (100-800MPa) at 40°C. None of these treatments caused any significant inactivation, except perhaps at 800MPa in pH 4.0 buffer where close to 1 log inactivation of B. coagulans was observed. Spore germination up to about 2 log was observed for both bacteria but occurred mainly in a low pressure window (100-300MPa) for A. acidoterrestris and only in a high pressure window (600-800MPa) for B. coagulans. In addition, low pH suppressed germination in A. acidoterrestris, but stimulated it in B. coagulans. In a second series of experiments, spores were treated in tomato sauce of pH 4.2 and 5.0 at 100 - 800MPa at 25, 40 and 60°C for 10min. At 40°C, results for B. coagulans were similar as in buffer. For A. acidoterrestris, germination levels in tomato sauce were generally higher than in buffer, and showed little difference at low and high pressure. Remarkably, the pH dependence of A. acidoterrestris spore germination was reversed in tomato sauce, with more germination at the lowest pH. Furthermore, HP treatments in the pH 4.2 sauce caused between 1 and 1.5 log inactivation of A. acidoterrestris. Germination of spores in the high pressure window was strongly temperature dependent, whereas germination of A. acidoterrestris in the low pressure window showed little temperature dependence. When HP treatment was conducted at 60°C, most of the germinated spores were also inactivated. For the pH 4.2 tomato sauce, this resulted in up to 3.5 and 2.0 log inactivation for A. acidoterrestris and B. coagulans respectively. We conclude that HP treatment can induce germination and inactivation of spores from thermoacidophilic bacteria in acidic foods, and may thus be useful to reduce spoilage of such foods caused by these bacteria.