Precooking of tuna is a potential critical control point (CCP) in the commercial manufacturing of canned tuna. To assess the efficacy of precooking as a CCP, an understanding of the thermal properties of histamine-producing bacteria (HPB) and their histidine decarboxylase (HDC) enzymes is required. The thermal properties of many HPB have been determined, but the thermal resistances of the HDC enzymes are unknown. The purpose of this study was to determine the D- and z-values of selected HDC enzymes to evaluate the CCP of precooking during the canning process and provide scientific data to support U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines. HDC (hdc) genes from three strains each of Morganella morganii, Enterobacter aerogenes, Raoultella planticola, and Photobacterium damselae were cloned, expressed, and purified using the Champion pET Directional TOPO Expression System, pET100 cloning vector, and HisPur Cobalt resin. The heat resistances of all enzymes were compared at 50°C, and the D- and z-values from one strain of each HPB were determined at 50 to 60°C. To evaluate the heat inactivation of HDC enzymes during canned tuna processing, tuna tissue was inoculated with HDCs and heated to 60°C in a water bath set at 65 and 100°C. The D-values for the HDC enzymes from M. morganii, E. aerogenes, R. planticola, and P. damselae ranged from 1.6 to 4.1, 1.6 to 6.3, 1.9 to 4.3, and 1.6 to 2.9 min, respectively, at 50 to 60°C. The z-values for M. morganii, E. aerogenes, R. planticola, and P. damselae were 19.2, 18.0, 22.0, and 13.3°C, respectively. The HDCs from all HPB except E. aerogenes showed no significant activity after being heated to 60°C. The data generated in this study will help refine current guidelines for the thermal destruction of the HDC enzymes.

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