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While the increase in thermal resistance of microorganisms at reduced water activity is demonstrated for low-moisture food products, the effect of storage time on the thermal resistance of microorganisms in low-moisture foods is not well established. As low-moisture foods are stored for long periods and are used as ingredients, cross-contamination can occur at any time period before the lethality step. Therefore, this study was designed to investigate the effect of storage time (30, 60, and 90 d) on the thermal resistance of Salmonella and Enterococcus faecium NRRL B-2354 in milk powders at a low water activity of 0.10 (conservative level). In this study, 2 milk powders, whole milk powder (WMP) and nonfat dry milk (NFDM), were inoculated with a 5-serotype Salmonella cocktail or E. faecium and equilibrated to a water activity of 0.10. The thermal resistance of Salmonella and E. faecium in WMP and NFDM were determined at different storage times (30, 60, and 90 d) at 85°C. The storage time had no effect on the thermal inactivation kinetics of Salmonella within 90 d of storage at 85°C. In the second part of this study, isothermal treatments were also conducted at higher temperatures (90 and 95°C) to evaluate the suitability of E. faecium as a surrogate for Salmonella in milk powders. The D-values of Salmonella in WMP with 30 d of storage at 85, 90, and 95°C were 7.98, 3.35, and 1.68 min. The corresponding values for E. faecium were 16.96, 7.90, and 4.16 min. Higher D-values of E. faecium indicates that it is a conservative surrogate. Similar results were found for NFDM. In general, D-values of both microorganisms are slightly higher in NFDM than WMP. Two primary models (log-linear and Weibull) were compared for their goodness-of-fit. The Weibull model was found to be more appropriate than the log-linear model. This study provides valuable information for establishing process validation for the pasteurization of milk powders. Copyright © 2021 American Dairy Science Association. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Xinyao Wei, Shantanu Agarwal, Jeyamkondan Subbiah. Evaluation of Enterococcus faecium NRRL B-2354 as a surrogate for Salmonella enterica in milk powders at different storage times and temperatures. Journal of dairy science. 2021 Jan;104(1):198-210

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PMID: 33189289

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