Three stains of Escherichia coli O157:H7, including ATCC 43889, ATCC 43895, and 933, were first subjected to acid adaptation at a pH of 5.0 for 4 h. Thermal tolerance at 52°C and survival of the acid-adapted as well as the nonadapted cells of E. coli O157:H7 in the presence of 10% sodium chloride, 0.85% bile salt, or 15.0% ethanol were investigated. Results showed that the effect of acid adaptation on the survival of E. coli O157:H7 varied with the strains and types of subsequent stress. Acid adaptation caused an increase in the thermal tolerance of E. coli O157:H7 ATCC 43889 and ATCC 43895, but no significant difference in the thermal tolerance was noted between acid-adapted and nonadapted cells of E. coli O157:H7 933. Although the magnitude of increase varied with strains of test organisms, acid adaptation generally led to an increase in the tolerance of E. coli O157:H7 to sodium chloride. On the other hand, the susceptibility of acid-adapted cells of the three strains of E. coli O157:H7 tested did not show a significant difference from that of their nonadapted counterparts when stressed with bile salt. The acid-adapted cells of E. coli O157:H7 ATCC 43889 and ATCC 43895 were less tolerant than the nonadapted cells to ethanol, whereas the tolerance of adapted and nonadapted cells of E. coli O157:H7 933 showed no significant differences.

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