The effects of five initial levels of CO2 (15, 30, 45, 60, and 75%) and three irradiation doses (0, 0.5, and 1.0 kGy) on toxin production by Clostridium botulinum in inoculated fresh pork were studied using factorial design experiments. Headspace CO2 levels increased in all samples during storage at 15°C. In most treatments, spoilage preceded toxigenesis. Toxin production occurred faster in samples initially packaged with 15 to 30% of CO2 while higher levels of CO2 (45–75%) delayed toxin production. Low-dose irradiation delayed toxin production at all levels of CO2 in the package headspace. Contrary to expectations, including a CO2 absorbent in the package enhanced toxin production by C. botulinum. This was attributed to production of H2 by the CO2 absorbent, possibly resulting in a decrease in the oxido-reduction potential of the meat.

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