Applied and environmental microbiology

Inactivation of Bacillus anthracis spores by a combination of biocides and heating under high-temperature short-time pasteurization conditions.

PMID 18390680


The milk supply is considered a primary route for a bioterrorism attack with Bacillus anthracis spores because typical high-temperature short-time (HTST) pasteurization conditions cannot inactivate spores. In the event of intentional contamination, an effective method to inactivate the spores in milk under HTST processing conditions is needed. This study was undertaken to identify combinations and concentrations of biocides that can inactivate B. anthracis spores at temperatures in the HTST range in less than 1 min. Hydrogen peroxide (HP), sodium hypochlorite (SH), and peroxyacetic acid (PA) were evaluated for their efficacy in inactivating spores of strains 7702, ANR-1, and 9131 in milk at 72, 80, and 85 degrees C using a sealed capillary tube technique. Strains ANR-1 and 9131 were more resistant to all of the biocide treatments than strain 7702. Addition of 1,260 ppm SH to milk reduced the number of viable spores of each strain by 6 log CFU/ml in less than 90 and 60 s at 72 and 80 degrees C, respectively. After neutralization, 1,260 ppm SH reduced the time necessary to inactivate 6 log CFU/ml (TTI6-log) at 80 degrees C to less than 20 s. Treatment of milk with 7,000 ppm HP resulted in a similar level of inactivation in 60 s. Combined treatment with 1,260 ppm SH and 1,800 ppm HP inactivated spores of all strains in less than 20 s at 80 degrees C. Mixing 15 ppm PA with milk containing 1,260 ppm SH resulted in TTI6-log of 25 and 12 s at 72 and 80 degrees C, respectively. TTI6-log of less than 20 s were also achieved at 80 degrees C by using two combinations of biocides: 250 ppm SH, 700 ppm HP, and 150 ppm PA; and 420 ppm SH (pH 7), 1,100 ppm HP, and 15 ppm PA. These results indicated that different combinations of biocides could consistently result in 6-log reductions in the number of B. anthracis spores in less than 1 min at temperatures in the HTST range. This information could be useful for developing more effective thermal treatment strategies which could be used in HTST milk plants to process contaminated milk for disposal and decontamination, as well as for potential protective measures.