The presence of lactic acid bacteria can be detrimental when the abundant growth of slime-producing strains (Lactobacillus spp. and Leuconostoc spp.) causes spoilage of meat products. Two strains of lactic acid bacteria were isolated from vacuum-packed cooked hams that had been withdrawn from the market for the so-called ropy slime defect and identified as Leuconostoc mesenteroides. In an attempt to define the behavior of ropy slime–producing bacteria, two strains of L. mesenteroides were incubated in de Man Rogosa Sharpe broth at different storage temperatures and conditions of thermal abuse (4, 12, 20, 30, 37, and 44°C). Both strains showed a lack of growth at 44°C, a good level of development at 30 and 37°C, and evident growth ability at low temperatures, with a long stationary phase. In particular, the bacterial concentration at 4°C was >105 CFU mL−1 after more than 120 days of incubation. This study demonstrates that the refrigeration temperature for cooked meat products does not constitute a hurdle for ropy slime producers and their subsequent ability to spoil.

  • Lactic acid bacteria can be detrimental when slime-producing strains cause meat spoilage.

  • L. mesenteroides from cooked ham was investigated at different temperatures.

  • Refrigeration temperature is not a hurdle for slime-producer strains.

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