Project bids to eliminate risk of botulinum in baked goods

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Bacteria

A project aimed at quantifying and eliminating the risk associated with the growth of Clostridium botulinum in baked goods is being initiated by a UK research group.

The research team at Campden BRI said that the ability of proteolytic C. botulinum​ to grow and produce toxin in UK produced baked goods such as white and wholemeal bread, naan bread and muffins under aerobic and anaerobic (Modified Atmosphere Packaging) conditions will be investigated.

While a wide range of micro-organisms – bacteria, yeasts and moulds – can cause spoilage and food safety issues with baked products, the level of food poisoning associated with baked foods is low compared to many other types of food.

Perceived risk

Lead researcher Phil Vosyey told that while there is no evidence of any association of this bacterium with baked products, there is a perceived potential risk.

“We want to prove a negative and accumulate significant data to offset any incident ever occurring,’​ he explained.

Vosyey said that the project has already elicited a positive response from several UK bakery manufacturers with whom he will be meeting next week to discuss various factors such as product focus, cost analysis, and a plan of action.

C. botulinum​ is a spore forming, toxin producing bacterium. The bacterium has caused food poisoning outbreaks where mortality rate has been high. Therefore it is regarded as an important pathogen.

Two forms of this pathogen are known - a cold-tolerant form, which has been associated with chilled foods, and an ambient temperature liking form, which has a potential for causing problems with MAP breads.

Controlled atmosphere

MAP, using gas packaging or interactive packaging sachet technology, is a means of controlling the growth of post-baking contaminants used by the baking and other food industries.

Vacuum packing techniques are used to increase the shelf-life of foods by taking the air out of the packaging surrounding the food. Because there is no air in the packet, most bacteria stop growing, which helps keep the food fresher for longer.

However, some types of bacteria can still grow without any air – C. botulinum is one of these.

Foodborne botulism is a severe disease. The consumption of as little as 0.1g of food in which C. botulinum ​has grown can result in botulism.

Related topics Processing & packaging

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