Swelled cans of low-acid food were collected from supermarkets over a 17-month period. Microorganisms were recovered from 47% of the 790 containers tested. Calculations suggested that approximately another 47% of the swelled cans were the result of microbial contamination, although no microorganisms were recovered, while 6% were physically induced (nonmicrobiological) swells. Food type appeared to influence the recovery of microorganisms. Types and incidences of organisms recovered were: 91.6% typical leaker spoilage microorganisms, 0.5% thermophiles, and 7.9% pure cultures of sporeforming organisms traditionally associated with under-processing.

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Author notes

1These studies were supported in part by FDA/PHS/HEW Contract #FDA 223-73-2200. Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station Scientific Journal Series Paper 11,608.

2Present address: Department of Food Technology and Science, P.O. Box 1071, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37901.