Survival of a five-strain mixture of stationary phase (nonadapted) and acid-adapted Escherichia coli O157:H7 in single-strength lemon and lime juices was evaluated at room temperature (22°C). The juices were reconstituted from concentrates that contained no preservatives and intrinsic pH values of 2.5 to 2.6 and titratable acidities of 4.51 to 4.53% (wt/vol, citric acid). A greater than 5-log reduction of stationary-phase cells was achieved in both lemon and lime juices after 72 h of incubation. Similar log reductions were obtained when the reconstituted juices were adjusted to pH 2.7, which is above the highest value normally observed in juice processing plants during the reconstitution of single-strength lemon or lime juice from concentrates. Lemon juice had a significantly higher inhibitory effect (P < 0.05) on E. coli O157:H7 than did lime juice. Validation tests with commercially produced shelf-stable lemon and lime juices confirmed that storage of the juices at room temperature (22°C) for 3 days may be an alternative to heat treatment to ensure the 5-log reduction of vegetative pathogens of concern required for the products under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration juice hazard analysis and critical control point regulations.

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