Cronobacter sakazakii in foods and factors affecting its survival, growth, and inactivation

Larry R. Beuchat, Hoikyung Kim, Joshua B. Gurtler, Li Chun Lin, Jee Hoon Ryu, Glenner M. Richards

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

129 Citations (Scopus)


Cronobacter sakazakii has been isolated from a wide range of environmental sources and from several foods of animal and plant origin. While infections caused by C. sakazakii have predominantly involved neonates and infants, its presence on or in foods other than powdered infant formula raises concern about the safety risks these foods pose to immunocompromised consumers. We have done a series of studies to better understand the survival and growth characteristics of C. sakazakii in infant formula, infant cereal, fresh-cut produce, and juices made from fresh produce. Over a 12-month storage period, the pathogen survived better in dried formula and cereal at low aw (0.25-0.30) than at high aw (0.69-0.82) and at 4 °C compared to 30 °C. C. sakazakii grows in formulas and cereals reconstituted with water or milk and held at 12-30 °C. The composition of formulas or cereals does not markedly affect the rate of growth. C. sakazakii grows well on fresh-cut apple, cantaloupe, watermelon, cabbage, carrot, cucumber, lettuce, and tomato at 25 °C and in some types of produce at 12 °C. Treatment of fresh fruits and vegetables with sanitizers such as chlorine, chlorine dioxide, and a peroxyacetic acid-based solution causes reductions of 1.6-5.4 log CFU/apple, tomato, and lettuce. Cells of C. sakazakii in biofilms formed on stainless steel and enteral feeding tubes or dried on the surface of stainless steel have increased resistance to disinfectants. Death of cells in biofilms is affected by atmospheric relative humidity. These studies have contributed to a better understanding of the behavior of C. sakazakii in and on foods and on food-contact surfaces, thereby enabling the development of more effective strategies and interventions for its control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)204-213
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Food Microbiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009 Dec 31


  • Cronobacter sakazakii
  • Enterobacter sakazakii
  • Foodborne illness
  • Infant formula

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Microbiology


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