Contemporary formulation and distribution practices for cold-filled acid products: Australian industry survey and modelling of published pathogen inactivation data
Chapman, B and Scurrah, KJ and Ross, T, Contemporary formulation and distribution practices for cold-filled acid products: Australian industry survey and modelling of published pathogen inactivation data, Journal of Food Protection, 73, (5) pp. 895-906. ISSN 0362-028X (2010) [Refereed Article]
A survey of 12 Australian manufacturers indicated that mild-tasting acids and preservatives are used to partially replace acetic acid in cold-filled acid dressings and sauces. In contrast to traditional ambient temperature distribution practices, some manufacturers indicated that they supply the food service sector with cold-filled acid products prechilled for incorporation into ready-to-eat foods. The Comité des Industries des Mayonnaises et Sauces Condimentaires de la Communauté Économique Européenne (CIMSCEE) Code, a formulation guideline used by the industry to predict the safety of cold-filled acid formulations with respect to Salmonella enterica and Escherichia coli, does not extend to the use of acids and preservatives other than acetic acid nor does it consider the effects of chill distribution. We found insufficient data in the published literature to comprehensively model the response of S. enterica and E. coli to all of the predictor variables (i.e., pH, acetic acid, NaCl, sugars, other acids, preservatives, and storage temperature) of relevance for contemporary cold-filled acid products in Australia. In particular, we noted a lack of inactivation data for S. enterica at aqueous-phase NaCl concentrations of >3% (wt/wt). However, our simple models clearly identified pH and 1/absolute temperature of storage as the most important variables generally determining inactivation. To develop robust models to predict the effect of contemporary formulation and storage variables on product safety, additional empirical data are required. Until such models are available, our results support challenge testing of cold-filled acid products to ascertain their safety, as suggested by the CIMSCEE, but suggest consideration of challenging with both E. coli and S. enterica at incubation temperatures relevant to intended product distribution temperatures.