Two application methods were used to investigate the effect of plantaricin BM-1 on the control of Listeria monocytogenes and background spoilage bacteria in sliced vacuum-packaged cooked ham without the addition of any chemical preservatives, including sodium nitrite, during 35 days of storage at 4°C. Regardless of the application method, plantaricin BM-1 treatment (320, 640, or 1,280 arbitrary units [AU]/g of sliced cooked ham) significantly (P < 0.05) reduced the survival of L. monocytogenes (inoculated at 4 log CFU/g of sliced ham) compared with its survival in the control during the first 21 days of storage at 4°C. The inhibitory effect of plantaricin applied to the surface of the ham was significantly better than the same concentration of plantaricin incorporated into the cooked ham (P < 0.0001) during storage. Even 320 AU/g plantaricin applied to the surface exhibited greater inhibition of L. monocytogenes than 1,280 AU/g plantaricin incorporated into the cooked ham on days 1, 14, and 28. A level of 1,280 AU/g plantaricin applied to the surface of the ham reduced L. monocytogenes counts to below the detection limit from the 1st to the 21st day of storage at 4°C. Afterwards, L. monocytogenes was able to regrow, and the viable counts of L. monocytogenes at the end of storage reached 2.76 log CFU/g (6.11 log CFU/g lower than in the control). In the control ham, the counts of background spoilage bacteria increased gradually and surpassed the microbiological spoilage limitation level on the 21st day of storage. However, plantaricin BM-1 treatment significantly (P < 0.05) reduced the survival of background spoilage bacteria in ham compared with their survival in the control from day 21 to 35 of storage at 4°C. A level of 1,280 AU/g plantaricin incorporated into cooked ham was the most effective, reducing the count of background spoilage bacteria count from an initial 2.0 log CFU/g to 1.5 log CFU/g on day 7. This was then maintained for another 14 days and finally increased to 2.76 log CFU/g at the end of the storage at 4°C (2.85 log CFU/g lower than in the control). In conclusion, plantaricin BM-1 application inhibited the growth of L. monocytogenes and background spoilage bacteria in cooked ham during storage at 4°C and could be used as an antimicrobial additive for meat preservation.
† These authors contributed equally to this work.