Journal : International journal of food microbiology , vol. 84 , p. 175–187 , 2003
Publisher : Elsevier
International Standard Numbers
Printed : 0168-1605
Electronic : 1879-3460
Publication type : Academic article
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Salt-cured and dried salt-cured cod rehydrated using sterile water and equipment have a short shelf life at 4 °C due to high bacterial counts. The microbiota develops off-odours which partly can be described as musty, causing sensory rejection within 7–10 days of chilled storage. The microbiota composition was studied in a total of 38 samples obtained from 10 different, both commercial and laboratory produced, salt-cured and dried salt-cured cod products. The dominating bacterium, representing at least 90% of the total viable count in all products studied, was identified as belonging to the genus Psychrobacter; a Gram-negative, oxidase- and catalase-positive, nonpigmented, halotolerant, psychrotolerant, facultative aerobe and nonmotile bacterium. The morphology of the bacterium resembles coccobacilli and the cells occur most often in pairs. The bacterium was able to hydrolyze lipids, but not proteins. It did not produce H2S or TMA and the spoilage in rehydrated salt-cured and dried salt-cured cod is therefor different from what is observed in fresh cod. However, samples inoculated with Psychrobacter immobilis gave the same musty odour as spoiled control samples but earlier in the storage period and of a stronger intensity. In a field experiment, carried out to investigate the origin of the dominating bacterium, it was found that the microbiota in both sterile rehydrated commercially produced and laboratory (aseptically) produced salt-cured cod was dominated by this same bacterium. The bacterium was also isolated from cod skin mucus immediately after capture. The bacterium survived NaCl concentrations up to 25% (w/v) NaCl, stating its ability to survive during the salt-curing process. The dominating bacterium in rehydrated salt-cured and dried salt-cured cod seems to mainly originate from the fresh fish itself and not from contamination during processing.