Modeling Bacillus cereus Growth and Cereulide Formation in Cereal-, Dairy-, Meat-, Vegetable-Based Food and Culture Medium

Mariem Ellouze*, Nathália Buss Da Silva, Katia Rouzeau-Szynalski, Laura Coisne, Frédérique Cantergiani, József Baranyi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


This study describes the simultaneous Bacillus cereus growth and cereulide formation, in culture medium and cereal-, dairy-, meat-, and vegetable-based food matrices. First, bacterial growth experiments were carried out under a wide range of temperatures (from 9 to 45°C), using the emetic reference strain F4810/72, in the above-mentioned matrices. Then, the generated data were put in a modeling framework where the response variable was a vector of two components: the concentration of B. cereus and that of its toxin, cereulide. Both were considered time-, temperature- and matrix-dependent. The modeling was carried out in a series of steps: the parameters fitted in one step became the response variable of the following step. Using the square root link function, the maximum specific growth rate of the organism and the time to the appearance of quantifiable cereulide were modeled against temperature by cardinal parameters models (CPM), for each matrix. Finally, a validation study was carried out on an independent data set obtained in the same matrices and using various Bacillus cereus strains. Results showed that both growth and toxin-formation depended on the food matrix and on the environment but not in the same way. Thus, the matrix (culture medium), where the highest growth rate of B. cereus was observed, was not the medium where the shortest time to quantifiable cereulide occurred. While the cereal-based matrix generated the smallest growth rates (0.41-times smaller than culture medium did), quantifiable cereulide appeared in it at earlier times compared to the other tested matrices. In fact, three groups of matrices could be distinguished based on their ability to support cereulide formation (1) the cereal-based matrix (highest), (2) the culture medium and the dairy-based matrix (intermediate), and (3) the meat- and vegetable-based matrices (lowest). This ranking between the matrices is quite different from that based on their suitability to the growth of the organism. Our models can be used in HACCP studies, to improve shelf-life predictions and, generally, microbiological food safety assessments of products for which B. cereus is the main concern.

Original languageEnglish
Article number639546
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 17 Feb 2021


  • Bacillus cereus
  • cereulide formation
  • culture medium
  • food
  • growth
  • predictive microbiology


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