The ability of Staphylococcus aureus to grow and produce enterotoxins in homemade mayonnaise prepared at different pH values was studied. Ten enterotoxigenic strains, producing one or two enterotoxin types (A, B, C, or D) were inoculated into mayonnaise samples with pH adjusted to values ranging between 4.0 and 5.8, and incubated at 37°C for 7 d. Counts were made on days 1, 3, 5, and 7 and extracts were prepared on day 7 to detect enterotoxin by ELISA. An important difference was seen between those samples prepared with pH below or equal to 4.9 and those over or equal to 5.0; in the range of pH between 4.0 and 4.9 the average of staphylococcal population was 100 CFU/g; at pH 5.0 it was 1.6 × 105, and at pH 5.15 and above it was at least 8 × 106 CFU/g. Enterotoxin was detected only at initial pH over 5.15 and when final pH was not less than 4.7. The highest amount of enterotoxin corresponded to 157.8 ng of SEB/100 g of mayonnaise.

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