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There's a limit to safe reduction of acetic acid, say scientists

By John Dunn , 02-Jul-2010
Last updated on 02-Jul-2010 at 20:35 GMT

Swedish scientists have found that there is a limit to the safe reduction of the preservative acetic acid without causing foodborne illnesses.

The research reinforces the 20-year-old European food industry 'CIMSCEE Code' for mathematically predicting the shelf-life of sauces and pickles that use acetic acid.

Work in the applied microbiology department at Lund university found that a small amount of acetic acid actually increased the amount of toxin from the harmful bacteria in the food.

However, if a large amount was added, as is traditional in dressings, sauces, cheeses and pickles, the bacteria did not survive, said researcher Nina Wallin Carlquist.

Carlquist studied the bacteria: Staphylococcus aureus and Campylobacter jejuni in boiled and smoked ham, in Serrano ham and in salami. It only took a few hours for the bacteria to multiply in the boiled and smoked ham, but a week in the Serrano ham. They did not survive at all in salami.

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