Assessment of the interaction between indigenous microbiota and Listeria monocytogenes on modified atmosphere packaged fresh-cut Romaine lettuce: a model system approach

Mathis Vermeersch
Persbericht

Een slaatje vol bacteriën; mogelijks een goede zaak!

Een zakje vers versneden sla uit de supermarkt bevat gemiddeld zo’n één miljoen bacteriën per gram sla. Hoe geraak je dan van al deze bacteriën af vooraleer je de sla opeet? Simpelweg niet, onmogelijk zelfs… en meer nog, onnodig. In deze masterproef* werd namelijk onderzocht of de vele bacteriën op Romeinse sla, welke voornamelijk goede bacteriën zijn, een hindernis kunnen vormen voor de groei van uitzonderlijk aanwezige ziekmakende bacteriën zoals Listeria monocytogenes.

Listeria mono…?
Listeria monocytogenes is net zoals Salmonella spp. een ziekteverwekkende bacterie die op voeding kan voorkomen. Bij de mens veroorzaakt Listeria monocytogenes de infectieziekte listeriose na consumptie van besmet voedsel. De gevolgen van listeriose kunnen gaan van griepachtige symptomen tot hersenvliesontsteking en bloedvergiftiging. Listeria monocytogenes wordt hierdoor gelinkt aan een hoog sterftecijfer, voornamelijk bij risicogroepen zoals jonge kinderen, ouderen, zwangere vrouwen of mensen met een verminderde weerstand. Bij ziekteverwekkende bacteriën in voeding wordt vaak gedacht aan dierlijke producten, bijvoorbeeld vis of kaas. Dat is terecht, maar bijkomend kan Listeria monocytogenes ook aanwezig zijn op bladgroenten zoals sla.

Minimale verwerking van sla.
Verpakte vers versneden sla die in de supermarkt verkocht wordt, heeft enkel minimale verwerking ondergaan. Tijdens deze verwerking wordt de geoogste sla versneden, gewassen, verpakt en daarna gekoeld opgeslagen voor transport en verkoop. Dit verwerkingsproces bevat geen hittestap die de eventueel aanwezige ziekteverwekkende bacteriën zou kunnen afdoden. Bovendien wordt sla gewoonlijk niet verhit voor consumptie. Dit zorgt ervoor dat als Listeria monocytogenes tijdens het teelt- of verwerkingsproces op de sla terechtkomt, consumptie kan leiden tot infectie.

Stroomschema met de belangrijkste processtappen voor minimaal verwerkte bladgroenten.

De sla wordt toch gewassen?
Zowel tijdens de minimale verwerking als doorgaans ook bij de consument wordt de vers versneden sla gewassen. Het wassen is echter niet voldoende om alle ziekteverwekkende bacteriën met zekerheid te verwijderen. Onderzoek heeft namelijk aangetoond dat bacteriën zich kunnen vasthechten op het slablad waardoor het wassen slechts een beperkt deel van alle bacteriën verwijdert. Bovendien kunnen overblijvende bacteriën na het wassen opnieuw uitgroeien tot hogere aantallen.

Goede bacteriën, de overgrote meerderheid.
Alle aanwezige bacteriën op sla, ook wel het microbiota van sla genoemd, kunnen grofweg ingedeeld worden in 3 categorieën, naar analogie met de film “The Good, the Bad & the Ugly”. The bad, of de slechte bacteriën, zoals Listeria monocytogenes, kunnen infectie en ziekte veroorzaken. The Ugly, of bederfbacteriën veroorzaken bederf van de sla, met eerst een verminderde, maar aanvaardbare kwaliteit tot uiteindelijk voedselverspilling doordat de sla niet langer geconsumeerd kan worden. Ten slotte the good, de goede bacteriën die de overgrote meerderheid vormen op het slablad. Als slechte bacteriën uitzonderlijk aanwezig zijn op de sla, is hun aanwezigheid dus minimaal in aantallen ten opzichte van de altijd hoog aanwezige goede bacteriën. Deze goede bacteriën vormen een complex netwerk en zouden slechte bacteriën kunnen onderdrukken. Onderdrukking kan verlopen door competitie voor een plaats op het blad, competitie voor nutriënten of door de productie van antimicrobiële componenten die negatief inwerken op de slechte bacteriën.

Een modelsysteem voor Romeinse sla op laboschaal.
Om onderdrukking en competitieve interacties tussen enerzijds Listeria monocytogenes en anderzijds enkele goede bacteriën vanop sla te onderzoeken, werd een modelsysteem ontwikkeld in het labo, namelijk sla-agar. Sla-agar is een groeimedium voor bacteriën dat gemaakt wordt van onder andere vers slasap. Deze sla-agar werd specifiek ontwikkeld als model voor de snijvlakken van vers versneden Romeinse sla. Het modelsysteem is bovendien steriel, wat betekent dat er geen bacteriën op aanwezig zijn. Hierdoor kunnen specifieke interacties tussen gekende bacteriën onderzocht worden, zonder enige invloed van de vele andere bacteriën die normaalgezien op sla aanwezig zijn.

Experimenteel onderzoek met het modelsysteem.
Enkele geselecteerde goede bacteriën werden aangebracht op het modelsysteem om hun groeipotentieel na te gaan. Vervolgens werden deze bacteriën ook samen met Listeria monocytogenes op het modelsysteem gezet. Hierbij werd de groei van beiden opgevolgd via plaattellingen gedurende een periode van 7 dagen. De opslagcondities streefden de commerciële omstandigheden van verpakte vers versneden sla na, namelijk opslag in de koeling onder gelijkaardige verpakkingscondities.

Resultaten.
Een nauw verwante biologische oorsprong van de geselecteerde goede bacteriën, namelijk specifiek afkomstig van sla of (blad)groenten, werd aangeduid als belangrijke factor om te kunnen groeien op het modelsysteem. Met betrekking tot competitie, werd voor twee natuurlijk voorkomende bacteriën vanop sla een stabiel onderdrukkend effect waargenomen tegen Listeria monocytogenes. Dit onderdrukkend effect kwam steeds tot uiting wanneer de bacteriën hun maximale populatiedichtheid bereikten, in overeenstemming met het Jameson-effect.

Het Jameson-effect.
Het Jameson-effect verwijst naar de niet-specifieke groeionderdrukking door een dominante bacterie wanneer deze zijn maximale populatiedichtheid, de stationaire fase, bereikt. Het mechanisme achter het Jameson-effect wordt verklaard door dominantie in aantallen, namelijk competitie voor plaats, in combinatie met verzuring of uitputting van nutriënten.

Bevindingen.
Voor enkele bacteriën vanop Romeinse sla is aangetoond dat ze een onderdrukkend effect uitoefenen op Listeria monocytogenes wanneer deze samen groeien op het modelsysteem. Er moet echter opgemerkt worden dat deze bevindingen onvoldoende zijn om te besluiten dat er altijd een stabiele onderdrukking zal optreden van de goede bacteriën tegen Listeria monocytogenes op Romeinse sla. De reden hiervoor is de hoge variabiliteit in samenstelling van alle bacteriën op het slablad. Omdat er voor sla echter niet veel conserveringsopties (toevoeging van additieven, verhitting, …) beschikbaar zijn, zouden deze goede bacteriën toch gebruikt kunnen worden in het kader van biologische controle. Hierbij worden de bacteriën op de sla aangebracht als versterking voor de van nature aanwezige bacteriën. Daarnaast zouden deze bacteriën ook samengevoegd kunnen worden tot een beschermende gemeenschap, waarbij ze in groep kunnen functioneren als een diverse en preventieve voedselveiligheidstool.

Aanrijking van het van nature aanwezige microbiota met één of meerdere biocontrole bacteriën.

*Masterproeftitel: Onderzoek naar de interactie tussen natuurlijk voorkomende microbiota en Listeria monocytogenes op vers versneden Romeinse sla, verpakt onder gemodificeerde atmosfeer: een modelsysteembenadering (origineel ENG: Assessment of the interaction between indigenous microbiota and Listeria monocytogenes on modified atmosphere packaged fresh-cut Romaine lettuce: a model system approach)

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Universiteit of Hogeschool
Master of Science in de bio-ingenieurswetenschappen: levensmiddelenwetenschappen en voeding
Publicatiejaar
2022
Promotor(en)
prof. dr. ir. Mieke Uyttendaele, prof. dr. ir. Frank Devlieghere
Kernwoorden
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