Organic acids offer promising options for the food industry in its attempt to ensure product safety and to meet consumer demand for minimally processed foods. In this study, four-carbon dicarboxylic acids were individually screened for their inhibitory potential against proteolytic Clostridium botulinum spores. Ground turkey breast meat was formulated with 1.4% sodium chloride (NaCl), 0.3% sodium pyrophosphate, 2% organic acid, 8% water and 500 spores/g of a six-strain mixture of proteolytic C. botulinum. Samples were adjusted to pH 6. Ten g of product in vacuum packages were heated in 75°C water for 20 min, cooled and incubated for 0 to 25 days at 28°C. Botulinal neurotoxin was detected at two days in control samples (0% acid) and at five days in 2% malic acid (0.13 M), aspartic (0.13 M), tartaric (0.12 M), succinic (0.15 M), fumaric (0.15 M) samples. Toxin was undetected at 25 days in samples treated with maleic acid (0.15 M). Maleic acid reduced total aerobic bacteria and lactic acid organisms in temperature-abused product, compared to controls. Further systematic investigation of these and related compounds with prior approval for food-use may demonstrate previously unrecognized antibacterial potential.

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