The combined effect of undissociated lactic acid (0 to 180 mmol/liter), acetic acid (0 to 60 mmol/liter), and propionic acid (0 to 12 mmol/liter) on growth of the molds Aspergillus niger, Penicillium corylophilum, and Eurotium repens was quantified at pH 3.8 and 25°C on malt extract agar acid medium. The impact of these acids on lag time for growth (λ) was quantified through a gamma model based on the MIC. The impact of these acids on radial growth rate (μ) was analyzed statistically through polynomial regression. Concerning λ, propionic acid exhibited a stronger inhibitory effect (MIC of 8 to 20 mmol/liter depending on the mold species) than did acetic acid (MIC of 23 to 72 mmol/liter). The lactic acid effect was null on E. repens and inhibitory on A. niger and P. corylophilum. These results were validated using independent sets of data for the three acids at pH 3.8 but for only acetic and propionic acids at pH 4.5. Concerning μ, the effect of acetic and propionic acids was slightly inhibitory for A. niger and P. corylophilum but was not significant for E. repens. In contrast, lactic acid promoted radial growth of all three molds. The gamma terms developed here for these acids will be incorporated in a predictive model for temperature, water activity, and acid. More generally, results for μ and λ will be used to identify and evaluate solutions for controlling bakery product spoilage.

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