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Food Microbiology
Volume 83, 2019, Pages 211-218

Association of fungal genera from spoiled processed foods with physicochemical food properties and processing conditions

Abigail B.Snydera,b, John J.Chureyb, Randy W.Worobob

Department of Extension, The Ohio State University, 1680 Madison Ave., Wooster, OH, 44691, USA.


The processing conditions and physiochemical properties used in food manufacturing create niches which support the growth of a limited number of spoilage fungi. This study was designed to evaluate the influence of intrinsic and extrinsic food product variables on the identity of spoilage fungi genera isolated from commercially produced foods. The spoilage etiology was identified in 127 products through ITS region sequencing. The prevalence and diversity of the identified spoilage fungi were evaluated in relationship to product-specific attributes using various descriptive statistics and a bipartite network analysis. Additionally, recursive partitioning was used to generate a classification tree with the outcomes, genera of the spoilage isolates, divided into increasingly homogenous subgroups. All of the isolated fungi belonged to the Ascomycete phylum, except four mucoralian isolates and the basidiomycete Rhodotorula. The occurrence of filamentous fungi repeatedly isolated ranged from 2% (Phoma spp.) to 18% (Penicillium spp.). In order of decreasing contribution to subgroup homogeneity, the split rules for the classification tree were based on process, water activity, food matrix category, and pH. Fungal genera representation in the terminal nodes indicated that production failures, in addition to product-specific attributes, were responsible for determination of the most probable spoilage organism.

Keywords: Foodborne fungi, Spoilage ecology, Food physicochemistry.

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