From 2000 to 2008, the social cost of food-borne illness in the USA amounted to $9.4 million annually. Bacillus cereus, Clostridium perfringens, or Staphylococcus aureus was charged $1.3 million (Scallan et al., 2011). In these pathogens, B. cereus is a common food contaminant, and is an etiological agent of two distinct forms of illness, i.e., emetic and diarrheal. B. cereus is found in meats, milk, vegetables, and some B. cereus are able to grow at 5 or 7℃, acid condition, and heating by sporulation (Dufrenne et al., 1994; Simpson et al., 1994; van Netten et al., 1990). B. cereus is not dangerous in low level (< 106 CFU/g), however B. cereus can multiply to dangerous levels in subsequent time and temperature. The counts of B. cereus were reported to be 2.9-4.59 Log CFU/g in meat products and B. cereus grow well after cooking (Tewari et al., 2015). Therefore, B. cereus in food must be controlled by heat treatment, radiation, and antimicrobials
Jerky is processed almost everywhere in the world. It is microbiologically safe, easy to prepare, light-weight, has a rich nutrient content, and can be stored without refrigeration (Kim et al., 2008b). However, some stressed pathogens included spore-forming bacteria may exhibit lower infectious doses, foodborne disease outbreaks related to jerky products have actually increased (Edison et al., 2000; Keene et al., 1997). Jerky has been studied for food additives, heating, and irradiation against Staphylococcus aureus, Listeria monocytogenes, Bacillus cereus, Salmonella Typhimurium, Escherichia coli, etc. for microbial safety, without addressing the quality of jerky during storage (Kim et al., 2010).
Nisin is the most commercial bacteriocin produced by Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis, which exhibits antimicrobial activity against a wide range of Gram-positive vegetative cells and spores. Nisin have been used for just processed cheese in Korea (Ministry of Food and Drug Safety). Bacteriocin has already been used in more than 50 countries in the food industry as an antagonistic additive (Ray, 1992). In addition, nisin has been permitted in processed meat include limits of 12.5 mg/kg in USA (Food and Drug Association), and has mainly been applied to dairy and meat products as a target of Gram positive pathogen (mainly Listeria monocytogenes) (Balciunas et al., 2013). Meanwhile, B. cereus has been investigated in beef gravy, fruit beverage, and cooked chilled foods (Assous et al., 2012; Beuchat et al., 1997; Choma et al., 2000).
There are limited data in the literature describing microbial distribution, particularly pathogens in jerky. However, the hurdle of L. monocytogenes, Salmonella Typhimurium, and Salmonella enterica was studied in jerky for its safety (Boles et al., 2007; Calicioglu et al., 2003; Yoon et al., 2009). Therefore, the purposes of this study were to determine microbial contamination status of the raw materials used for beef jerky, and beef jerky itself, and the antimicrobial effect of nisin on the growth of B. cereus inoculated in beef jerky during storage.
Materials and Methods
Preparation of beef jerky
Beef was purchased from a local market for the manufacture of beef jerky. The meat was tempered at 4℃ for 24 h and sliced 6 mm thick. The composition of jerky spices was water (10%), soy sauce (9%), starch syrup (5%), sugar (2%), D-sorbitol (6%), pepper (0.5%), ginger powder (0.1%), garlic powder (0.2%), onion powder (0.2%), sodium nitrate (0.007%), sodium citrate (0.01%), potassium sorbate (0.1%), sodium erythorbate (0.036%), and soup stock powder (0.1%). Treated raw meats using jerky spices were phase-dried in a dehydrator at 50℃ for 60 min, 60℃ for 60 min, and 70℃ for 90 min. After drying, the jerky strips were held in the dehydrator overnight, to allow the moisture level in the jerky slices to equilibrate, and then placed into sterile plastic bags.
Each sample (25 g) was taken aseptically using a sterile stomacher bag containing 225 mL of 0.1% sterile peptone water, and macerated for 2 min. Decimal serial dilution in 0.1% peptone water was prepared. The number of mesophilic bacteria counts were determined using plate count agar (PCA, Difco Laboratories, USA), at 37℃ for 48 h. B. cereus numbers were determined using cereus selective agar (Merck, Germany), at 30℃ for 24 h. Microbial colonies were counted, and expressed as log colony forming units per gram (Log CFU/g). Pathogenic microorganisms of each sample were isolated, and identified as described in Table 1.
Table 1.Conditions for the isolation, growth, and identification of pathogenic bacteria in raw meats
Preparation of B. cereus strains and addition to beef jerky
B. cereus strains isolated in raw meat, spices, and spiced meat were used for hurdle technology. B. cereus was grown on PCA (Difco) overnight at 30℃, and then left at ambient temperature for one week, to sporulate. When spores were detected microscopically, spore suspensions were created in sterile 0.1% peptone water, and heat treated (80℃ for 10 min) to kill vegetative cells. Spores were enumerated by viable counts, and the suspensions were adjusted to 106 spore/mL. Mixed inocula were prepared, by combining spore suspensions in equal concentrations. Spores were inoculated to the beef jerky, to give a predicted level of 103 CFU/g.
Preparation of nisin and addition to beef jerky
Nisin (Sigma-Aldrich, USA) was used as a form of stock solution. A standard stock solution of nisin containing 1×105 IU/mL was prepared, by dissolving 100 mg of nisin in 0.02 M HCl (1 mL), and adding 9 mL of distilled water. Nisin was added at concentrations of 100 IU/g and 500 IU/g, respectively to the beef jerky.
Package and storage of beef jerky
A coextruded, multilayered film (C5045, nylon/PE/nylon/PE/nylon/LLDPE, Cryovac Division, Sealed Air Corporation, USA) was used for packaging and the pouches were heat-sealed under vacuum. Beef jerky samples were then stored at room temperature (25℃) for 60 d, and samples were taken at regular intervals throughout the storage period for quality measurements.
Results and Discussion
The pathogens most frequently associated with raw meats are E. coli O157:H7, B. cereus, Salmonella spp., L. monocytogenes, and S. aureus (Edison et al., 2000; Kim et al., 2008b). For the determination of microbial contamination, the incidences of pathogenic bacteria in raw meat, spices, spiced meats, and jerky products are summarized in Table 2. Five strains of B. cereus were isolated from raw meat, spices, and spiced meat, while no pathogens were detected in the final products. In addition, no other pathogens were detected. These results may be a drying process using dehydrator.
Table 2.−, negative; +, positive.
Five isolated strains using cereus selective agar were Gram positive, rod shaped, spore forming bacteria, and catalase-positive. These strains did not grow on Simmon’s citrate, produced NO2, and need to take arginine for growth. Therefore, these isolates were identified as B. cereus by ATB automated identification system, with 99.8% identity.
The antimicrobial effect of nisin against mesophilic bacteria in beef jerky during storage is shown in Fig. 1(a). The number of mesophilic bacteria in control samples (not inoculated with B. cereus and without nisin) steadily increased, and reached more than 3.5 Log CFU/g after 28 d. In samples inoculated with B. cereus, the number of mesophilic bacteria was 3.2 Log CFU/g after 7 d of storage, and remained around 3 Log CFU/g, during 60 d storage. Detection time of mesophilic bacteria was delayed by added nisin. The number of mesophilic bacteria in beef jerky samples with 100 IU nisin/g meat was detected at 2 d, and reached more than 2.5 Log CFU/g after 28 d. With 500 IU nisin/g, the number of mesophilic bacteria was detected at 28 d, and remained below 2.5 Log CFU/g during 60 d storage. Some stressed microorganisms including spore-forming bacteria can survive the pasteurization process and cause outbreak at storage temperature (Carlin et al., 2000; Paik et al., 2006).
B. cereus can be detected in jerky, because of the strong survival of spores in the processing. Therefore, the antimicrobial effect of nisin was investigated against B. cereus during storage (Fig. 1(b)). The number of B. cereus in beef jerky without nisin was 2.4 Log CFU/g at 0 d, and remained around 3 Log CFU/g during storage. The number of B. cereus with 100 IU nisin/g meat was not detected at 2 d, but was detected at 4 d. These values were around 3 Log CFU/g during storage. With 500 IU nisin/g, B. cereus was detected at 28 d, and remained around 2.2 Log CFU/g during storage.
Fig. 1.The number of (a) mesophilic bacteria, and (b) Bacillus cereus, in the absence or presence of nisin in beef jerky products during storage at 25℃. Control packages ( ● ), packages inoculated with Bacillus cereus ( ■ ), packages inoculated with Bacillus cereus and nisin 100 IU ( ▲ ), and packages inoculated with Bacillus cereus and nisin 500 IU ( ◆ ).
The inactivation of nisin is known by the presence of proteolytic enzymes produced by B. cereus (Beuchat et al., 1997). In control samples (without inoculated B. cereus and nisin), no major changes in B. cereus growth during storage were observed. The remaining of the number of B. cereus in beef jerky without nisin may be depend on low water activity of jerky. Nisin was reported as biopreservative against B. cereus in cook-chill foods of soybean sprout, cooked rice, and milk (Kim et al., 2008a; Penna et al., 2002; Vessoni et al., 2002). In addition, nisin was applied as incorporating film against B. cereus (Alrabadi, 2012).
The increase in the numbers of microorganisms depends on the initial numbers of microorganisms and the storage temperature (Carlin et al., 2000; Paik et al., 2006). Nisin reduced initial numbers of microorganism and delayed the occurrence as inoculum in this study, and these results indicate that by supplementing it to the beef jerky, high risk of illness can be avoided.
In conclusion, the incidences of pathogenic bacteria in raw meat, spices, spiced meats, and jerky products were studied. Just five strains of B. cereus were isolated from raw meat, spices, and spiced meat, while no pathogens were detected in the final products. The effect of nisin on the growth of B. cereus inoculated in beef jerky during storage was demonstrated. The addition of nisin can decrease the initial cell count of mesophilic bacteria and B. cereus in beef jerky. The results suggest that nisin could be an effective approach to extend the shelf life, and improve the microbial safety of beef jerky, during storage.
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