High pressure processing (HPP) and treatment with the essential oil extract carvacrol had synergistic inactivation effects on Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes in fresh ground chicken meat. Seven days after HPP treatment at 350 MPa for 10 min, Salmonella treated with 0.75% carvacrol was reduced to below the detection limit (1 log CFU/g) at 4°C and was reduced by ca. 6 log CFU at 10°C. L. monocytogenes was more sensitive to these imposed stressors, remaining below the detection limit during storage at both 4 and 10°C after HPP treatment at 350 MPa for 10 min following treatment with 0.45% carvacrol. However, pressure-injured bacterial cells may recover and lead to an overestimation of process lethality when a selective medium is used without proper justification. For HPP-stressed Salmonella, a 1- to 2-log difference was found between viable counts on xylose lysine Tergitol 4 agar and aerobic plate counts, but no significant difference was found for HPP-stressed L. monocytogenes between polymyxin–acriflavine–lithium chloride–ceftazidime–esculin–mannitol (PALCAM) agar and aerobic plate counts. HPP-induced bacterial injury and its recovery have been investigated by comparing selective and nonselective agar plate counts; however, few investigations have addressed this issue in the presence of essential oil extracts, taking into account the effect of high pressure and natural antimicrobial compounds (e.g., carvacrol) on bacterial survival in various growth media. Use of selective media may overestimate the efficacy of bacterial inactivation in food processing evaluation and validation studies, and the effects of various media should be systematically investigated.

  • HPP and carvacrol had synergistic pathogen inactivation effects in ground chicken meat.

  • HPP at 350 MPa for 10 min with 0.60% carvacrol treatment resulted in a >5-log pathogen reduction.

  • A 1- to 2-log difference was found for counts of HPP-treated Salmonella on two growth media.

  • Counts of HPP-treated L. monocytogenes were similar on selective and nonselective media.

  • Carvacrol suppressed the growth and recovery of the HPP-treated bacterial cells.

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