Microbiota of cocoa powder with particular reference to aerobic thermoresistant spore-formers

L.J.R. Líma, H.J. Kamphuis, M.J.R. Nout, M.H. Zwietering

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24 Citations (Scopus)


The microbiological criteria of commercial cocoa powder are defined in guidelines instituted by the cocoa industry. Twenty-five commercial samples were collected with the aim of assessing the compliance with the microbiological quality guidelines and investigating the occurrence and properties of aerobic Thermoresistant Spores (ThrS). Seventeen samples complied with the guidelines, but one was positive for Salmonella, five for Enterobacteriaceae and two had mould levels just exceeding the maximum admissible level. The treatment of the cocoa powder suspensions from 100 °C to 170 °C for 10 min, revealed the presence of ThrS in 36% of the samples. In total 61 ThrS strains were isolated, of which the majority belonged to the Bacillus subtilis complex (65.6%). Strains resporulation and spore crops inactivation at 110 °C for 5 min showed a wide diversity of heat-resistance capacities. Amplified fragment length polymorphism analysis revealed not only a large intraspecies diversity, but also different clusters of heat-resistant spore-forming strains. The heat-resistance of spores of six B. subtilis complex strains was further examined by determination of their D and z-values. We concluded that B. subtilis complex spores, in particular those from strain M112, were the most heat-resistant and these may survive subsequent preservation treatments, being potentially problematic in food products, such as chocolate milk
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)573-582
JournalFood Microbiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • bacillus-subtilis
  • heat-resistance
  • sp-nov
  • aflp
  • heterogeneity
  • bacteria
  • sequence
  • strains
  • milk
  • rna


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