Due to their ubiquitous nature in the environment, the alicyclobacilli can be routinely isolated from liquid sugars, such as HFCS, concentrated juices, purees, and other agricultural products. Although there is no doubt that the alicyclobacilli have been involved in spoilage of juice and beverage products, the significance of detecting them in an unspoiled food sample remains in question. It is unlikely that the detection of a single spore in 100 g of concentrated juice by quality control testing would correlate with the potential for spoilage in the final product.
A substantial amount of research is needed to ascertain the significance of finding these organisms in food products. It is understandable that beverage-manufacturing companies wish to obtain ingredients (juice, HFCS, granulated sugar, etc.) that do not contain alicyclobacillus. This should be tempered with the knowledge that the significance of finding small numbers of these organisms in raw ingredients is not fully understood, and that current technology does not allow HFCS or concentrate/puree facilities to completely eliminate the alicyclobacilli from their products. Research to determine the probability of spoilage in products that contain specific numbers of spores and are stored under various conditions is lacking. Additionally, it would be helpful to investigate the existence of processing and storage parameters that might prevent outgrowth of alicyclobacilli in packaged products. Further discoveries may provide the answers needed to establish acceptable standards for alicyclobacillus in foods.
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