It’s all the rage: Could high-pressure processing be risky?

High-pressure processing is a non-thermal method of food preservation that uses pressure to inactivate microorganisms. To ensure the effective validation of process parameters, it is important that the design of challenge protocols consider the potential for resistance in a particular species.

Herein, the responses of 99 diverse Salmonella enterica strains to high pressure are reported. Members of this population belonged to 24 serovars and were isolated from various Canadian sources over a period of 26 years. When cells were exposed to 600 MPa for 3 min, the average reduction in cell numbers for this population was 5.6 log10 CFU/ml, with a range of 0.9 log10 CFU/ml to 6 log10 CFU/ml. Eleven strains, from 5 serovars, with variable levels of pressure resistance were selected for further study. The membrane characteristics (propidium iodide uptake during and after pressure treatment, sensitivity to membrane-active agents, and membrane fatty acid composition) and responses to stressors (heat, nutrient deprivation, desiccation, and acid) for this panel suggested potential roles for the cell membrane and the RpoS regulon in mediating pressure resistance in S. enterica. The data indicate heterogeneous and multifactorial responses to high pressure that cannot be predicted for individual S. enterica strains.

The responses of foodborne pathogens to increasingly popular minimal food decontamination methods are not understood and therefore are difficult to predict. This report shows that the responses of Salmonella entericastrains to high-pressure processing are diverse. The magnitude of inactivation does not depend on how closely related the strains are or where they were isolated. Moreover, strains that are resistant to high pressure do not behave similarly to other stresses, suggesting that more than one mechanism might be responsible for resistance to high pressure and the mechanisms used may vary from one strain to another.

Population-wide survey of Salmonella enterica response to high-pressure processing reveals a diversity of responses and tolerance mechanisms

Applied and Environmental Microbiology, Volume 8, Number 2, January 2018

Sandeep Tamber