Aim: To determine the lactic acid bacteria (LAB) implicated in bloating spoilage of vacuum-packed and refrigerated meat products.
Methods and results: A total of 18 samples corresponding to four types of meat products, with and without spoilage symptoms, were studied. In all, 387 colonies growing on de Man, Rogosa and Sharpe, yeast glucose lactose peptone and trypticase soy yeast extract plates were identified by internal spacer region (ISR), ISR-restriction fragment length polymorphism and rapid amplified ribosomal DNA restriction analysis profiles as Lactobacillus (37%), Leuconostoc (43%), Carnobacterium (11%), Enterococcus (4%) and Lactococcus (2%). Leuconostoc mesenteroides dominated the microbial population of spoiled products and was always present at the moment bloating occurred. Lactobacillus sakei, Lactobacillus plantarum and Lactobacillus curvatus were found in decreasing order of abundance. The analysis of two meat products, 'morcilla' and 'fiambre de magro adobado' obtained from production lines revealed a common succession pattern in LAB populations in both products and showed that Leuc. mesenteroides became the main species during storage, despite being below the detection level of culture methods after packing.
Conclusions: Our results pointed to Leuc. mesenteroides as the main species responsible for bloating spoilage in vacuum-packed meat products.
Significance and impact of the study: Prevention of bloating spoilage in vacuum-packed cooked meat products requires the sensitive detection of Leuc. mesenteroides (i.e. by PCR).