A mathematical model was developed to predict time to inactivation (TTI) by high pressure processing of Listeria monocytogenes in a broth system (pH 6.3) as a function of pressure (450 to 700 MPa), inoculum level (2 to 6 log CFU/ml), sodium chloride (1 or 2%), and sodium lactate (0 or 2.5%) from a 4°C initial temperature. Ten L. monocytogenes isolates from various sources, including processed meats, were evaluated for pressure resistance. The five most resistant strains were used as a cocktail to determine TTI and for model validation. Complete inactivation of L. monocytogenes in all treatments was demonstrated with an enrichment method. The TTI increased with increasing inoculum level and decreasing pressure magnitude, from 1.5 min at 700 MPa and 2 log CFU/ml, to 15 min at 450 MPa and 6 log CFU/ml. Neither NaCl nor sodium lactate significantly influenced TTI. The model was validated with ready-to-eat, uncured, Australian retail poultry products, and with product specially made at a U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)–inspected pilot plant in the United States. Data from the 210 individual product samples used for validation indicate that the model gives “fail-safe” predictions (58% with response as expected, 39% with no survivors where survivors expected, and only 3% with survivors where none were expected). This model can help manufacturers of refrigerated ready-to-eat meats establish effective processing criteria for the use of high pressure processing as a postlethality treatment for L. monocytogenes in accordance with FSIS regulations.

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Author notes

Present address: Silliker, Inc., Food Science Center, 160 Armory Drive, South Holland, IL 60473, USA.