Strain variability of the behavior of foodborne bacterial pathogens: a review.
The abilities of cells of a particular type of bacteria to leave lag phase and begin the process of dividing or surviving heat treatment can depend on the serotypes or strains of the bacteria. This article reports an investigation of serotype-specific differences in growth and heat resistance kinetics of clinical and food isolates of Salmonella. Growth kinetics at 19 degrees C and 37 degrees C were examined in brain heart infusion broth and heat resistance kinetics for 60 degrees C were examined in beef gravy using a submerged coil heating apparatus. Estimates of the parameters of the growth curves suggests a small between-serotype variance of the growth kinetics. However, for inactivation, the results suggest a significant between-serotype effect on the asymptotic D-values, with an estimated between-serotype CV of about 20%. In microbial risk assessment, predictive microbiology is used to estimate growth and inactivation of pathogens. Often the data used for estimating the growth or inactivation kinetics are based on measurements on a cocktail--a mixture of approximately equal proportions of several serotypes or strains of the pathogen being studied. The expected growth or inactivation rates derived from data using cocktails are biased, reflecting the characteristics of the fastest growing or most heat resistant serotype of the cocktail. In this article, an adjustment to decrease this possible bias in a risk assessment is offered. The article also presents discussion of the effect on estimating growth when stochastic assumptions are incorporated in the model. In particular, equations describing the variation of relative growth are derived, accounting for the stochastic variations of the division of cells. For small numbers of cells, the expected value of the relative growth is not an appropriate "representative" value for actual relative growths that might occur.