Development of a simple recovery-enrichment system for enhanced detection of heat-injured Listeria monocytogenes in pasteurized milk

Alex Yeow Lim Teo, Stephen J. Knabel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


A simple anaerobic recovery-enrichment system, semisolid Penn State University (ssPSU) broth, that enhances recovery of heat-injured Listeria monocytogenes, was rapidly achieved in 10-ml screw-capped tubes by adding Bacto-agar (2.5 g/liter) and L-cysteine (0.5 g/liter) to Penn State University broth. Glucose was removed from the formulation for ssPSU broth to prevent the growth of thermoduric lactobacilli. Ferric ammonium citrate was added to ssPSU broth to detect esculin hydrolysis and to indicate the presumptive presence of L. monocytogenes. Replacement of phosphate buffer with 3-[N-morpholino]propanesulfonic acid (MOPS) buffer and addition of magnesium sulfate (15 mM) enhanced recovery and detection of L. monocytogenes heat treated at 62.8°C for 20 min. D-Serine, at a concentration of 150 mM, was found to inhibit germination of Bacillus spp. spores but did not inhibit severely heat-injured L. monocytogenes. Finally, ssPSU broth was modified (to mPSU broth) to contain the following: (i) Bacto-agar, 2.5 g/liter; (ii) ferric ammonium citrate, 0.5 g/liter; (iii) MOPS buffer, pH 7.0; (iv) D-serine, 13.7 g/liter; (v) D-alanine, 11.6 g/liter; and (iv) magnesium sulfate, 1.81 g/liter. Incubation temperature significantly affected the recovery and detection of severely heat-injured L. monocytogenes. L. monocytogenes that were heat challenged in filter-sterilized whole milk at 62.8°C for 20, 25, and 30 min could not be detected at incubation temperatures ≥30°C but were consistently detected after incubation at 25°C for 174, 199, and 330 h, respectively. Heat-injured cells of L. monocytogenes that were added to various commercial brands of pasteurized whole milk were also detected using mPSU broth. When clostridial spores (104 spores per ml) were added to filter-sterilized milk containing either heat-injured or non-heat-injured L. monocytogenes, only the latter could be detected in mPSU broth. The mPSU broth system requires no purging with nitrogen gas to create anaerobic conditions and permits recovery, growth, and detection of L. monocytogenes in one vessel in the presence of thermoduric background microflora commonly found in pasteurized milk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)462-472
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of food protection
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Microbiology


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