Antimicrobial effect of nisin in processed cheese - Quantification of residual nisin by LC-MS/MS and development of new growth and growth boundary model for Listeria monocytogenes

Veronica Martinez Rios*, Mikael Pedersen, Monica Pedrazzi, Elissavet Gkogka, Jørn Smedsgaard, Paw Dalgaard

*Corresponding author for this work

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This study tested the hypothesis that growth of Listeria monocytogenes in processed cheese with added nisin can be predicted from residual nisin A concentrations in the final product after processing. A LC-MS/MS method and a bioassay were studied to quantify residual nisin A concentrations and a growth and growth boundary model was developed to predict the antilisterial effect in processed cheese. 278 growth rates were determined in broth for 11 L. monocytogenes isolates and used to determine 13 minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) values for nisin between pH 5.5 and 6.5. To supplement these data, 67 MIC-values at different pH-values were collected from the scientific literature. A MIC-term was developed to describe the effect of pH on nisin MIC-values. An available growth and growth boundary model (doi: 10.1016/ was expanded with the new MIC-term for nisin to predict growth in processed cheese. To generate data for model evaluation and further model development, challenge tests with a total of 45 growth curves, were performed using processed cheese. Cheese were formulated with 11.2 or 12.0 ppm of nisin A and heat treated to obtain residual nisin A concentrations ranging from 0.56 to 5.28 ppm. Below 15°C, nisin resulted in extended lag times. A global regression approach was used to fit all growth curves determined in challenge tests. This was obtained by combining the secondary growth and growth boundary model including the new term for the inhibiting effect of nisin on μmax with the primary logistic growth model with delay. This model appropriately described the growth inhibiting effect of residual nisin A and showed that relative lag times depended on storage temperatures. With residual nisin A concentrations, other product characteristics and storage temperature as input the new model correctly predicted all observed growth and no-growth responses for L. monocytogenes. This model can support development of nisin A containing recipes for processed cheese that prevent growth of L. monocytogenes. Residual nisin A concentrations in processed cheese were accurately quantified by the developed LC-MS/MS method with recoveries of 83 to 110 % and limits of detection and quantification being 0.04 and 0.13 ppm, respectively. The tested bioassay was less precise and nisin A recoveries varied for 53% to 94%.
Original languageEnglish
Article number108952
JournalInternational Journal of Food Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Cardinal parameter model
  • global regression
  • growth boundary
  • ψ-value
  • product development


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