The Skylab Food System presented unique microbiological problems because food was warmed in null-gravity (diminished convection) and potentially diminished conduction due to poor surface contact), and because the heat source was limited to 69.4 C (to prevent boiling in null-gravity in the approximately one-third atmosphere total pressure). For these reasons, the foods were manufactured using critical control point techniques of quality control coupled with appropriate hazard analyses. One of these hazard analyses evaluated the threat from Clostridium perfringens. Samples of food were inoculated with C. perfringens and incubated for 2 h at temperatures ranging from 25 to 55 C. Generation times were determined for the foods at various temperatures. Results of these tests were evaluated taking into consideration: food-borne disease epidemiology, the Skylab food manufacturing procedures, and the performance requirements of the Skylab Food System. Based on this hazard analysis, a limit for C. perfringens of 100/g was established for Skylab foods.

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Author notes

1Technology Incorporated, Life Sciences Division, 17311 El Camino Real, Houston, Texas 77058.

2Food and Nutrition Branch, Biomedical Research Division, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas 77058.

3Microbiology Division. U.S. Army Natick Laboratories, Natick, Massachusetts 01760.