Visualization and modelling of the thermal inactivation of bacteria in a model food

Sanjay R Bellara, Peter J. Fryer, Caroline M McFarlane, Colin R Thomas, Paul M Hocking, Bernard M Mackey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A large number of incidents of food poisoning have been linked to undercooked meat products. The use of mathematical modelling to describe heat transfer within foods, combined with data describing bacterial thermal inactivation, may prove useful in developing safer food products while minimizing thermal overprocessing. To examine this approach, cylindrical agar blocks containing immobilized bacteria (Salmonella typhimurium and Brochothrix thermosphacta) were used as a model system in this study. The agar cylinders were subjected to external conduction heating by immersion in a water bath. They were then incubated, sliced open, and examined by image analysis techniques for regions of no bacterial growth. A finite-difference scheme was used to model thermal conduction and the consequent bacterial inactivation. Bacterial inactivation rates were modelled with values for the time required to reduce bacterial number by 90% (D) and the temperature increase required to reduce D by 90% taken from the literature. Model simulation results agreed well with experimental results for both bacteria, demonstrating the utility of the technique.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3095-9
Number of pages5
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1999


  • Agar
  • Culture Media
  • Enterobacteriaceae/growth & development
  • Escherichia coli O157/growth & development
  • Food Microbiology
  • Gram-Positive Asporogenous Rods/growth & development
  • Hot Temperature
  • Meat Products/microbiology
  • Models, Biological
  • Salmonella typhimurium/growth & development

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