London, January 12 (ANI): You may soon get to gorge upon salamis that are safer to eat, and have longer shelf lives, thanks to a novel computer model that can help tackle the growth of dangerous bacteria in food.
Alessandro Giuffrida, a food safety specialist at the University of Messina in Italy, has revealed that he and his colleagues have developed a model for bacterial growth that includes both competition and environmental influences.
He revealed that his team focused on the way bacteria grows in traditional Sicilian salami during the fermentation stage of its preparation, a period of curing in which the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes competes with a population of harmless lactic acid bacteria.
The researcher said that his model could simulate that competition for resources as well as the effects of fluctuations in environmental factors like temperature, and accurately reproduce experimental data on the growth of L. monocytogenes.
He insisted that the model could be useful for devising ways to control the bacterial growth during the fermentation process.
According to the new model, fluctuations of temperature, pH or humidity could be used to limit bacterial growth.
Giuffrida said that greater fluctuations in such conditions led to slower growth of L. monocytogenes in the fermentation stage, though his team have yet to work out why.
Based on his team's observations, he came to the conclusion that controlling such bacterial battles could produce food with a longer shelf life.
Software is on the market for predicting the shelf life of various foods based on the growth rates of single species of bacteria, but the ability to model two species is a step towards better prediction.
"This is the first detailed look at the interplay of environmental noise and interactions between bacterial species. It's an important advance in predictive microbiology," New Scientist magazine quoted Fabio Marchesoni at the University of Perugia, as saying.
A research article describing this work will be published in the journal European Food Research and Technology. (ANI)