Temperature

Temperature is a key variable in the antimicrobial activity of carbon dioxide. It has been shown that C02 is a very effective antimicrobial agent at low storage temperatures but less effective at higher temperatures. This increased inhibitory effect has been attributed to the greater dissolution of C02 in the aqueous phase of products at lower storage temperatures and resultant changes in intracel-

lular pH and enzymatic activities of microorganisms. Therefore, any decrease in inhibition of spoilage and extension of shelf life at higher storage temperatures results from the lower solubility of C02 in the aqueous phase of the product. MAP should not be regarded as a substitute for proper storage temperature. Although MAP slows the deterioration of a food product, it never totally arrests deterioration. For respiring products, increasing the storage temperature also increases the rate of respiration, resulting in a decrease in shelf life.

The effects of temperature abuse are particularly important from the standpoint of safety. Temperature abuse of MAP muscle foods may result in the rapid growth of both spoilage and pathogenic bacteria. The minimum temperature for growth of Salmonella and Escherichia coli inoculated in ground meat and packaged in low- and high-permeability film is 0°C. Of major concern with respect to safety of MAP fish is the growth of and toxin production by C. botulinum type E, which has been demonstrated to be capable of growth at temperatures as low as 3.3°C. Proper refrigeration is therefore essential to assure the effectiveness of C02 as an antimicrobial agent and to prevent potential growth of pathogenic organisms that may not be suppressed by C02.

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