Elimination of Escherichia coli O157:H7 from Fermented Dry Sausages at an Organoleptically Acceptable Level of Microencapsulated Allyl Isothiocyanate
Four sausage batters (17.59% beef, 60.67% pork, and 17.59% pork fat) were inoculated with two commercial starter culture organisms (>7 log10 CFU/g Pediococcus pentosaceus and 6 log10 CFU/gStaphylococcus carnosus) and a five-strain cocktail of nonpathogenic variants of Escherichia coli O157:H7 to yield 6 to 7 log10 CFU/g. Microencapsulated allyl isothiocyanate (AIT) was added to three batters at 500, 750, or 1,000 ppm to determine its antimicrobial effects. For sensory analysis, separate batches with starter cultures and 0, 500, or 750 ppm microencapsulated AIT were produced. Sausages were fermented at ≤26°C and 88% relative humidity (RH) for 72 h. Subsequently sausages were dried at 75% RH and 13°C for at least 25 days. The water activity (aw), pH, and levels of starter cultures, E. coli O157:H7, and total bacteria were monitored during fermentation and drying. All sausages showed changes in the initial pH from 5.57 to 4.89 and in aw from 0.96 to 0.89 by the end of fermentation and drying, respectively. Starter culture numbers were reduced during sausage maturation, but there was no effect of AIT on meat pH reduction. E. coli O157:H7 was reduced by 6.5 log10 CFU/g in sausages containing 750 and 1,000 ppm AIT after 21 and 16 days of processing, respectively. E. coli O157:H7 numbers were reduced by 4.75 log10 CFU/g after 28 days of processing in treatments with 500 ppm AIT, and the organism was not recovered from this treatment beyond 40 days. During sensory evaluation, sausages containing 500 ppm AIT were considered acceptable although slightly spicy by panelists.