The efficacy of pressure–heat treatment was evaluated for the inactivation of Bacillus cereus spores in cooked rice. The spores of B. cereus ATCC 9818 were inoculated (1.1 × 108 CFU/g) in a parboiled rice product (pH 6.0, water activity of 0.95) and inactivated to an undetectable level (<10 CFU/g) by treatment of 600 MPa and process temperatures of 60 to 85°C or 0.1 MPa and 85°C. Kinetic inactivation parameters were estimated with linear and nonlinear models. The potential recovery of injured bacteria was also evaluated during storage of the treated product for 4 weeks at 4 and 25°C. Depending on the process temperature, a 600-MPa treatment inactivated spores by 2.2 to 3.4 log during the 30-s pressure come-up time, and to below the detection limit after 4- to 8-min pressure-holding times. In contrast, a 180-min treatment time was required to inactivate the spores to an undetectable level at 0.1 MPa and 85°C. The decimal reduction time of spores inactivated by combined pressure–heat treatment ranged from 1.08 to 2.36 min, while it was 34.6 min at 85°C under atmospheric conditions. The nonlinear Weibull model scale factor increased, and was inversely related to the decimal reduction time, and the shape factor decreased with increasing pressure or temperature. The recovery of injured spores was influenced by the extent of pressure-holding time and process temperature. This study suggests that combined pressure–heat treatment could be used as a viable alternative to inactivate B. cereus spores in cooked rice and extend the shelf life of the product.
†Present address: Institute for Food Safety and Health, Illinois Institute of Technology, 6502 South Archer Road, Bedford Park, IL 60501, USA.