The presence of lactic acid bacteria (LAB) can be detrimental when the abundant growth of slime-producing strains (Lactobacillus spp. and Leuconostoc spp.) causes spoilage of meat products. Two strains of LAB were isolated from vacuum packed, cooked hams, which had been withdrawn from the market for the so-called «ropy slime» defect and identified as Leuconostoc mesenteroides. In an attempt to define the behaviour of ropy slime-producing bacteria, two strains of L. mesenteroides were incubated in MRS broth at different storage temperatures and conditions of thermal abuse (4, 12, 20, 30, 37, 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 above 105 cfu ml-1 after over 120 days of incubation. This research demonstrates that the refrigeration temperature for cooked meat products does not constitute a hurdle for ropy slime-producers and their subsequent ability to spoil.

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