The viability of Listeria monocytogenes was monitored on frankfurters containing added potassium lactate that were obtained directly from a commercial manufacturer. Eight links (ca. 56 g each) were transferred aseptically from the original vacuum-sealed bulk packages into nylon-polyethylene bags. Each bag then received a 4-ml portion of a five-strain mixture of the pathogen. Frankfurters containing 2.0 or 3.0% potassium lactate were evaluated using 20 CFU per package, and frankfurters containing 3.0% potassium lactate were evaluated using 500 CFU per package. The packages were vacuum-sealed and stored at 4 or 10°C for up to 90 or 60 days, respectively. During storage at 4°C, pathogen numbers remained at about 1.6 log10 CFU per package over 90 days in packages containing frankfurters with 2.0% potassium lactate that were inoculated with about 20 CFU. In packages containing frankfurters with 3.0% potassium lactate that were inoculated with about 20 CFU and stored at 4°C, pathogen numbers remained at about 1.4 log10 CFU per package over 90 days. In packages containing frankfurters with 3.0% potassium lactate that were inoculated with about 500 CFU and stored at 4°C, pathogen numbers remained at about 2.4 log10 CFU per package over 90 days. However, in the absence of any added potassium lactate, pathogen numbers increased to 4.6 and 5.0 log10 CFU per package after 90 days of storage at 4°C for starting levels of 20 and 500 CFU per package, respectively. During storage at 10°C, pathogen numbers remained at about 1.4 log10 CFU per package over 60 days in packages containing frankfurters with 2.0% potassium lactate that were inoculated with about 20 CFU. In packages containing frankfurters with 3.0% potassium lactate that were inoculated with about 20 CFU and stored at 10°C, pathogen numbers remained at about 1.1 log10 CFU per package over 60 days of storage. In the absence of any added potassium lactate, pathogen numbers increased to 6.5 log10 CFU per package after 28 days and then declined to 5.0 log10 CFU per package after 60 days of storage at 10°C. In packages containing frankfurters with 3.0% potassium lactate that were inoculated with about 500 CFU per package, pathogen numbers remained at about 2.4 log10 CFU per package over 60 days of storage at 10°C, whereas in the absence of any added potassium lactate, pathogen numbers increased to about 6.6 log10 CFU per package within 40 days and then declined to about 5.5 log10 CFU per package after 60 days of storage. The viability of L. monocytogenes in frankfurter packages stored at 4 and 10°C was influenced by the pH and the presence or levels of lactate but not by the presence or levels of indigenous lactic acid bacteria or by the proximate composition of the product. These data establish that the addition of 2.0% (P < 0.0004) or 3.0% (P < 0.0001) potassium lactate as an ingredient in frankfurters can appreciably enhance safety by inhibiting or delaying the growth of L. monocytogenes during storage at refrigeration and abuse temperatures.

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Author notes

Mention of brand or firm names does not constitute an endorsement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture over others of a similar nature not mentioned.

Portions of this research were presented at the Annual Meeting of the Institute of Food Technologists in New Orleans, Louisiana, 23 to 27 June 2001 (30).