Effect of salt and sodium nitrite on growth and enterotoxin production of Staphylococcus aureus during the production of air-dried fresh pork sausage

W Bang, D J Hanson, M A Drake
Journal of Food Protection 2008, 71 (1): 191-5
Staphylococcus aureus contamination and enterotoxin production is a potential food safety hazard during the drying step of production of air-dried fresh country sausage. The growth characteristics and enterotoxin production of S. aureus during the drying step of this product with and without added sodium nitrite were evaluated. Three strains of S. aureus were grown to stationary phase and inoculated (10(4) CFU/g) into sausage ingredients. Fresh pork sausages were stuffed into natural casings and allowed to dry for 10 days at 21 degrees C with 60% relative humidity (RH). In control sausage (1.76% [wt/wt] salt) with no S. aureus, aerobic plate counts increased by 5.5 log/g during the 10-day drying period, and coliforms increased by 4.8 log/g. The addition of sodium nitrite (154 ppm of nitrite, 2.24% [wt/wt] salt) or increased salt (3.64%, wt/wt) to sausage limited the growth of coliform bacteria (P < 0.05). S. aureus numbers increased approximately 2 log units during the drying step, regardless of additional salt or nitrite. Additional salt or nitrite had no effect on S. aureus growth (P > 0.05). Staphylococcal enterotoxin (SE) was not detected in air-dried fresh sausages at any time. Our results suggest that drying of fresh pork sausage under similar parameters listed in this study does not support SE production.

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