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Keywords:

  • antibacterial activity;
  • bacteriocins;
  • C. sakazakii;
  • food safety;
  • infant food;
  • LAB

Abstract

Cronobacter sakazakii is an opportunistic pathogen that can cause bacteremia, meningitis, and necrotizing enterocolitis, most often in neonates with case-fatality rates that may reach 80%. The antimicrobial activity of lactic acid bacteria against a wide range of foodborne pathogens is well-established in different types of food products. The objective of the current study was to investigate the antibacterial activity of Lactobacillus acidophilus and L. casei isolated from feces of healthy infants against different strains of C. sakazakii in agar and a rehydrated infant milk formula (RIMF) model. The inhibition zones of C. sakazakii around L. acidophilus or L. casei ranged from 22 to 32 mm on eMan Rogosa Sharpe (MRS) agar under aerobic conditions, while a slight reduction in antibacterial activity was noted on modified MRS (0.2% glucose) under anaerobic conditions. It was observed that pH-neutralized cell-free supernatant (CFS) of L. acidophilus or L. casei was inhibitory against tested C. sakazakii strains. The inhibition zones of neutralized CFS were lower than the antibacterial activities of live cultures. The antibacterial activity of CFS was abolished when CFS from L. acidophilus or L. casei was heated at 60 or 80 °C for either 10 min or 2 h, or treated with trypsin or pepsin. This was considered strong evidence that the inhibition was due to the production of bacteriocins by L. casei and L. acidophilus. Both the CFS and active growing cells of L. casei and L. acidophilus were able to reduce the viability of C. sakazakii in the RIMF model. The results may extend the use of natural antimicrobials instead of conventional preservation methods to improve the safety of RIMF.