Carlos A. Gómez-Aldapa, Claudio A. Díaz-Cruz, Angélica Villarruel-López, M. del Refugio Torres- Vitela, Javier Añorve-Morga, Esmeralda Rangel-Vargas, Jorge F. Cerna-Cortes, J. Gabriel Vigueras-Ramírez and Javier Castro-Rosas. Behavior of Salmonella Typhimurium, Staphylococcus aureus, Listeria monocytogenes, Shigella Flexneri and S. Sonnei During Production of Pulque, a Traditional Mexican Beverage, Journal of Food Protection. 74: 580-587.
Pulque is a typical fermented alcoholic beverage of central Mexico, produced from the nectar of maguey agave plants. Production systems are largely artisanal, with inadequate hygiene conditions and exposure to multiple contamination sources. No data exist on pulque microbiological safety and the behavior of pathogenic microorganisms in agave nectar and pulque. An initial trial was done of the behavior of Salmonella Typhimurium, Staphylococcus aureus, Listeria monocytogenes, and Shigella flexneri and Shigella sonnei during fermentation of nectar from a single producer, nectar mixture from different producers, and seed pulque. A second trial simulating artisanal pulque production was done by contaminating fresh nectar with each of the five strains, storing at 22C for 14 h, adding seed pulque, and fermenting until pulque was formed. During incubation at 16 or 22C in the first trial, all the pathogenic strains multiplied in both the single producer nectar and the nectar mixture, reaching maximum concentrations at 12 h. Strains concentration then decreased slowly. In the seed pulque, the strains did not multiply and tended to die. In the second trial, all strains increased concentration from 0.7 to 1.6 log at 22C, and from 0.5 to 1.1 at 16C in the first 14 h. After addition of seed pulque, they were quickly deactivated until none was detected in the final product. The results suggest that the potential risk to consumers of contracting any of the five tested pathogenic bacterial strains from pulque is low.