Sauerkraut was produced from shredded cabbage, as is typical in the United States, and from whole head cabbages, which is a traditional process in parts of Eastern Europe. The sauerkraut was inoculated with five strain mixtures of Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Listeria monocytogenes, and the populations of these bacteria, as well as lactic acid bacteria, pH, and titratable acidity, were monitored over the course of fermentation. Fermentation variables were temperature (18 and 22°C) and salt concentration (1.8, 2.25, and 3%). For most of the analyses, the type of cabbage processing was a significant factor, although within cabbage type, neither salt nor fermentation temperature had significant effects. The final pH of the whole-head sauerkraut was lower than the shredded sauerkraut, but the titratable acidity was significantly higher in the shredded sauerkraut. E. coli O157:H7 and L. monocytogenes persisted in the brines for most of the fermentation, although at the end of the fermentations (15 days for shredded, 28 days for whole head), neither pathogen had detectable populations. E. coli populations decreased more rapidly in the shredded sauerkraut even though the pH was higher because of the higher total acidity in the shredded sauerkraut. Acid-tolerant strains of E. coli and L. monocytogenes were isolated from both shredded and whole-head sauerkraut at different salt concentrations and temperatures after 15 days of fermentation and could be detected at 35 days in the whole-head sauerkraut.

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