Survival of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in Milk Exposed to High Temperatures and High Pressure

Irena Usajewicz* and Beata Nalepa

Department of Industrial and Food Microbiology, Faculty of Food Sciences, University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn, Pl. Cieszynbski 1, PL-10-975 Olsztyn, Poland

Article history:

Received September 22, 2004
Accepted September 21, 2005

Key words:

Escherichia coli, survival, high temperature, high pressure


The objective of the present study was to determine the survival of two enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli O157:H7 strains (no. 94 and 402) and a saprophytic E. coli 1 strain at temperatures of 55 and 60 °C, and under the pressure of 300 to 600 MPa at ambient temperature (about 20 °C). The strains, in populations of 106–107 CFU/mL, were introduced into the skim milk and broth. The survival of test strains at high temperatures and high pressure depended to a high degree (p<0.05) on the type of medium in which the cells were suspended. At 55 °C the inactivation of E. coli cells was recorded after 60 to 120 min in the broth, and after 180 min in the milk. At 60 °C the time required for their thermal death was 15 to 30 min in broth. In milk only E. coli 1 cells died after 30-minute heating; the other strains survived in populations of about 40 CFU/mL. In the broth, a pressure of 550 MPa, applied for 20 min at ambient temperature, killed the entire populations of E. coli 94 and E. coli 402, and all E. coli 1 cells died at 600 MPa, also applied for 20 min at ambient temperature. In the milk live cells of all pressurized strains survived in the quantities of 102–103 CFU/mL, so their reduction by 5 log cycles was not achieved. Damaged cells were found in the majority of samples exposed to heating and high pressure. These cells did not form colonies on nutrient agar, but were able to repair damage and grow in nutrient broth at 37 °C.

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