Carlos A. Gómez-Aldapa, Claudio A. Díaz-Cruz, Angelica Villarruel-López, M. del Refugio Torres-Vitela, Esmeralda Rangel-Vargas and Javier Castro-Rosas. 2012. Acid and alcohol tolerance of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in pulque, a typical Mexican beverage. International Journal of Food Microbiology.154(1-2):79-84
Pulque is a traditional Mexican fermented alcoholic beverage produced from the nectar of maguey agave plants. No data exist on the behavior of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in agave nectar and pulque. An initial trial was done of the behavior of E. coli O157:H7 during fermentation of nectar from a single producer, a nectar mixture from different producers and seed pulque. A second trial simulating artisanal pulque production was done by contaminating fresh nectar with a cocktail of three E. coli O157:H7 strains, storing at 16 and 22 C for 14 h, adding seed pulque and fermenting until pulque was formed. A third trial used pulque from the second trial stored at 22 C as seed to ferment fresh nectar at 22 C for 48 h (fermentation cycle). This procedure was repeated for an additional two fermentation cycles. During incubation at 16 or 22 C in the first trial, the E. coli O157:H7 strains multiplied in both the single producer nectar and nectar mixture, reaching maximum concentration at 12 h. E. coli O157:H7 cell concentration then decreased slowly, although it survived at least 72 h in both fermented nectars. E. coli O157:H7 did not multiply in the seed pulque but did survive at least 72 h. In the second trial, the numbers of E. coli O157:H7 increased approximately 1.5 log CFU/ml at 22 C and 1.2 log CFU/ml at 16 C after 14 h. After seed pulque was added, E. coli O157:H7 concentration decreased to approximately 2 log CFU/ml, and then remained constant until pulque was produced. In the third trial, the E. coli O157:H7 cells multiplied and survived during at least three nectar fermentation cycles. The results suggest that E. coli O157:H7 can develop acid and alcohol tolerance in pulque, and constitutes a public health risk for pulque consumers.