Research – Influence of Hurdle Technology on Foodborne Pathogen Survival in the Human Gastrointestinal Tract



The application of several sublethal stresses in hurdle technology can exert microbial stress resistance, which, in turn, might enable foodborne pathogens to overcome other types of lethal stresses, such as the gastrointestinal barriers. The present study evaluated the survival of Salmonella Typhimurium and Listeria monocytogenes during simulated digestion, following exposure to combinations of water activity (aw), pH and storage temperature stresses. The results revealed that both pathogens survived their passage through the simulated gastrointestinal tract (GIT) with their previous habituation to certain hurdle combinations inducing stress tolerance. More specifically, the habituation to a low temperature or to a high pH resulted in the increased stress tolerance of Salmonella, while for Listeria, the cells appeared stress tolerant after exposure to a high temperature or to a low pH. Nonetheless, both pathogens expressed increased sensitivity after habituation to growth-limiting hurdle combinations. The survival of stress-tolerant pathogenic cells in the human GIT poses major public health issues, since it can lead to host infection. Consequently, further research is required to obtain a deeper understanding of the adaptive stress responses of foodborne bacteria after exposure to combinations of sublethal hurdles to improve the existing food safety systems.

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