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International Journal of Food Microbiology
171, 2014; Pages: 119 - 128

Quantitative assessment of the risk of microbial spoilage in foods. Prediction of non-stability at 55 °C caused by Geobacillus stearothermophilus in canned green beans

Clémence Rigaux, Stéphane André, Isabelle Albert, Frédéric Carlin

NRA, UR 1204, Met@risk, Food Risk Analysis Methodologies, F-75005 Paris, France.

Microbial spoilage of canned foods by thermophilic and highly heat-resistant spore-forming bacteria, such asGeobacillus stearothermophilus, is a persistent problem in the food industry. An incubation test at 55 °C for 7 days, then validation of biological stability, is used as an indicator of compliance with good manufacturing practices. We propose a microbial risk assessment model predicting the percentage of non-stability due toG. stearothermophilus in canned green beans manufactured by a French company. The model accounts for initial microbial contaminations of fresh unprocessed green beans with G. stearothermophilus, cross-contaminations in the processing chain, inactivation processes and probability of survival and growth. The sterilization process is modeled by an equivalent heating time depending on sterilization value F0 and on G. stearothermophilus resistance parameter zT. Following the recommendations of international organizations, second order Monte-Carlo simulations are used, separately propagating uncertainty and variability on parameters.
As a result of the model, the mean predicted non-stability rate is of 0.5%, with a 95% uncertainty interval of [0.1%; 1.2%], which is highly similar to data communicated by the French industry. A sensitivity analysis based on Sobol indices and some scenario tests underline the importance of cross-contamination at the blanching step, in addition to inactivation due to the sterilization process.

Keywords: Geobacillus stearothermophilus; Prevalence; Cross contaminations; Process risk model; Second order Monte Carlo simulation; Sensitivity analysis



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