Applied and Environmental Microbiology vol:73 issue:5 pages:1601-1611
In food technology, organic acids (e.g., lactic acid, acetic acid, and citric acid) are popular preservatives. The purpose of this study was to separate the individual effects of the influencing factors pH and undissociated lactic acid on Listeria innocua inactivation. Therefore, the inactivation process was investigated under controlled, initial conditions of pH (pH0) and undissociated lactic acid ([LaH]0). The resulting inactivation curves consisted of a (sometimes negligible) shoulder period followed by a descent phase. In a few cases, a tailing phase was observed. Depending on the conditions, the descent phase contained one or two log-linear parts or had a convex or concave shape. In addition, the inactivation process was characterized by a certain variability, dependent on the severity of the conditions. Furthermore, in the neighborhood of the growth/no growth interface sometimes contradictory observations occurred. Overall, the individual effects of the influencing factors pH and undissociated lactic acid could clearly be distinguished and were also apparent based on fluorescence microscopy. Appropriate model types were developed and enabled prediction of which conditions of pH0 and [LaH]0 are necessary to obtain a predetermined inactivation (number of decimal reductions) within a predetermined time range.