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A new predictive dynamic model describing the effect of the ambient temperature and the convective heat transfer coefficient on bacterial growth

Abstract : In this study, predictive microbiology and food engineering were combined in order to develop a new analytical model predicting the bacterial growth under dynamic temperature conditions. The proposed model associates a simplified primary bacterial growth model without lag, the secondary Ratkowsky "square root" model and a simplified two-parameter heat transfer model regarding an infinite slab. The model takes into consideration the product thickness, its thermal properties, the ambient air temperature, the convective heat transfer coefficient and the growth parameters of the micro organism of concern. For the validation of the overall model, five different combinations of ambient air temperature (ranging from 8 °C to 12 °C), product thickness (ranging from 1 cm to 6 cm) and convective heat transfer coefficient (ranging from 8 W/ (m2 K) to 60 W/(m2 K)) were tested during a cooling procedure. Moreover, three different ambient air temperature scenarios assuming alternated cooling and heating stages, drawn from real refrigerated food processes, were tested. General agreement between predicted and observed bacterial growth was obtained and less than 5% of the experimental data fell outside the 95% confidence bands estimated by the bootstrap percentile method, at all the tested conditions. Accordingly, the overall model was successfully validated for isothermal and dynamic refrigeration cycles allowing for temperature dynamic changes at the centre and at the surface of the product. The major impact of the convective heat transfer coefficient and the product thickness on bacterial growth during the product cooling was demonstrated. For instance, the time needed for the same level of bacterial growth to be reached at the product's half thickness was estimated to be 5 and 16.5 h at low and high convection level, respectively. Moreover, simulation results demonstrated that the predicted bacterial growth at the air ambient temperature cannot be assumed to be equivalent to the bacterial growth occurring at the product's surface or centre when convection heat transfer is taken into account. Our results indicate that combining food engineering and predictive microbiology models is an interesting approach providing very useful tools for food safety and process optimisation.
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Hana Ben Yaghlene, Ivan Leguérinel, Moktar Hamdi, Pierre Mafart. A new predictive dynamic model describing the effect of the ambient temperature and the convective heat transfer coefficient on bacterial growth. International Journal of Food Microbiology, Elsevier, 2009, 133 (1-2), pp.48-61. ⟨10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2009.04.014⟩. ⟨hal-00553650⟩

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