Dry dairy powder is a commonly used ingredient for ready-to-eat foods. It has been implicated in multiple foodborne outbreaks. Listeria monocytogenes can survive in low moisture conditions for a long duration. However, there is no information on Listeria survival in dry milk powder during storage and thermal treatments. The objectives of this study were to examine the stability of L. monocytogenes in non-fat dry milk (NFDM) during extended storage and further analyze thermal resistance of L. monocytogenes in NFDM under different water activities (aw) and its thermal stability after 1-year storage. We observed approximately 1.75 and 2.93 log CFU/g reduction of L. monocytogenes in aw 0.25 NFDM over 1-year storage at 4 and 22 °C, respectively. Thermal resistance of L. monocytogenes was inversely related to aw, and the inactivation kinetic curves of L. monocytogenes in NFDM at target aw showed a log-linear trend under all tested conditions. For aw 0.25, 0.30, and 0.45 NFDM, the ranges of D-values, were 66.2 – 21.3, 33.5 – 9.4, and 14.6- 4.3 min at 70, 75 and 80 °C, respectively. The z-values for L. monocytogenes in NFDM at aw 0.25-0.45 were 14.62 – 15.95 °C. Furthermore, the thermal stability of L. monocytogenes in aw 0.25 NFDM post 6-month or 12-month storage under refrigerated or ambient storage did not deviate much from that in NFDM prior to the storage. Data indicated that a 60-min heat treatment at 80 °C resulted in ∼ 5-log reduction of L. monocytogenes in NFDM of aw 0.30. This provides a promising intervention strategy to enhance bactericidal efficacy of thermal treatment while maintaining the quality of milk powder.

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This work was supported by the IAFNS Food Microbiology Committee.