A facultatively anaerobic, non-spore-forming, psychrophilic, gram-positive, non-aciduric but alkaliphilic, rod-shaped bacterium (MPL-11T) was found to be responsible for green discoloration of refrigerated vacuum-packaged bologna upon opening of the package. Although Aerococcus viridans, which had been implicated earlier in causing the same problem, was also found, this is the first report of discoloration caused by an organism shown to be a species of Carnobacterium. Bacterial discoloration was caused by H2O2 production upon exposure of the meat to air. Strain MPL-11T is catalase- and oxidase-negative. It is not motile and does not reduce nitrate to nitrite or produce ammonia from arginine. It does not grow in acetate-containing broth or agar (Rogosa) or produce H2S. The peptidoglycan is of the meso-diaminopimelic acid type and it produces predominantly L(+)-lactic acid from glucose. It grows from at least 2 to 30 degrees C over a pH range from 5.5 to 9.1. Ribotyping suggested that strain MPL-11T could be a species of either Lactobacillus or Carnobacterium, but analysis using DNA sequences from the 16S rRNA gene showed conclusively that the organism belonged to the genus Carnobacterium. Since acid is not produced from amygdalin, inulin, mannitol, methyl alpha-D-glucoside or D-xylose, the organism differs from the seven described species of Carnobacterium. In addition, strain MPL-11T is the first member of the genus found that does not produce acid from ribose. It is capable of acid production/growth on galactose, glucose, fructose, mannose, N-acetylglucosamine, aesculin, cellobiose, maltose, lactose, sucrose, trehalose and tagatose. Although extremely salt tolerant, it does not grow in > or = 4% NaCl. On the basis of phenotypic and genotypic data, it is concluded that this isolate represents a separate, novel species. Accordingly, the name Carnobacterium viridans sp. nov. is proposed. The type strain is strain MPL-11T (= ATCC BAA-336T = DSM 14451T).