Mathematical models that predict the behavior of human bacterial pathogens in food are valuable tools for assessing and managing this risk to public health. A study was undertaken to develop a model for predicting the behavior of Salmonella enterica serotype 8,20:–:z6 in chicken meat during cold storage and to determine how well the model would predict the behavior of other serotypes of Salmonella stored under the same conditions. To develop the model, ground chicken thigh meat (0.75 cm3) was inoculated with 1.7 log Salmonella 8,20:–:z6 and then stored for 0 to 8 days at −8 to 16°C. An automated miniaturized most-probable-number (MPN) method was developed and used for the enumeration of Salmonella. Commercial software (Excel and the add-in program NeuralTools) was used to develop a multilayer feedforward neural network model with one hidden layer of two nodes. The performance of the model was evaluated using the acceptable prediction zone (APZ) method. The number of Salmonella in ground chicken thigh meat stayed the same (P > 0.05) during 8 days of storage at −8 to 8°C but increased (P < 0.05) during storage at 9°C (+0.6 log) to 16°C (+5.1 log). The proportion of residual values (observed minus predicted values) in an APZ (pAPZ) from −1 log (fail-safe) to 0.5 log (fail-dangerous) was 0.939 for the data (n = 426 log MPN values) used in the development of the model. The model had a pAPZ of 0.944 or 0.954 when it was extrapolated to test data (n = 108 log MPN per serotype) for other serotypes (S. enterica serotype Typhimurium var 5−, Kentucky, Typhimurium, and Thompson) of Salmonella in ground chicken thigh meat stored for 0 to 8 days at −4, 4, 12, or 16°C under the same experimental conditions. A pAPZ of ≥0.7 indicates that a model provides predictions with acceptable bias and accuracy. Thus, the results indicated that the model provided valid predictions of the survival and growth of Salmonella 8,20:–:z6 in ground chicken thigh meat stored for 0 to 8 days at −8 to 16°C and that the model was validated for extrapolation to four other serotypes of Salmonella.

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