Survival of foodborne pathogenic bacteria (Bacillus cereus, Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium, Staphylococcus aureus, and Listeria monocytogenes) and Bacillus cereus spores in fermented alcoholic beverages (beer and refined rice wine)

J Food Prot. 2014 Mar;77(3):419-26. doi: 10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-13-234.


Only limited information is available on the microbiological safety of fermented alcoholic beverages because it is still a common belief that such beverages do not provide a favorable environment for bacterial growth and survival. Thus, in this study, we examined the survival of major foodborne pathogens and spores in fermented alcoholic beverages. Foodborne pathogens (Bacillus cereus, Escherichia coli O157:H7, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium, and Staphylococcus aureus) and B. cereus spores (initial population, 3 to 4 log CFU/ml) were inoculated separately into three types of beer and refined rice wine, which were then stored at 5 and 22°C. Bacterial counts were assayed periodically for up to 28 days. Vegetative B. cereus counts decreased rapidly, whereas B. cereus spore counts remained constant (P > 0.05) for a long period of time in all beverages. Vegetative B. cereus cells formed spores in beer at 5 and 22°C, and the spores survived for long periods. Among vegetative cells, E. coli O157:H7 had the highest survival (only 1.49 to 1.56 log reduction during 28 days in beer at 5°C). Beer and refined rice wine supported microbial survival from several days to several weeks. Our results appear to contradict the common belief that pathogens cannot survive in alcoholic beverages. Long-term survival of pathogens (especially B. cereus and E. coli O157:H7) in beer and refined rice wine should be taken into consideration by the manufacturers of these beverages. This study provides basic information that should help further research into microbial survival in alcoholic beverages and increase the microbiological safety regulation of fermented alcoholic beverages.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacillus cereus / growth & development
  • Beer / microbiology*
  • Beverages / microbiology
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Consumer Product Safety*
  • Escherichia coli O157 / growth & development
  • Fermentation
  • Food Handling / methods*
  • Food Microbiology
  • Listeria monocytogenes / growth & development
  • Microbial Viability
  • Oryza
  • Salmonella typhimurium / growth & development
  • Spores, Bacterial
  • Staphylococcus aureus / growth & development
  • Temperature
  • Wine / microbiology*