The August 2021 Journal of Food Protection featured a research article from CAT Squared Implementation Specialist Sheridan Brewer.

Brewer was part of a research team from the University of Georgia that investigated the viability of foodborne pathogens and changing microbial community dynamics in the popular fermented beverage, kombucha. Results were collected using four different home kombucha-brewing kits over at least two 14-day trials of fermentation period for each kit brand. The different microbiota groups, including Lactobacillus spp., which are often recognized as the probiotic cultures in kombucha, surmounted a large population by the third day of fermentation and stabilized after that. The foodborne pathogens studied – Salmonella spp. and Escherichia coli – were, surprisingly, able to survive in small numbers ( < 10 -100 CFUs/mL) to the end of a 14-day fermentation period in some kits. However, on average, both pathogens demonstrated a 5-log reduction or greater in population numbers by day 10 of the fermentation period. A 5-log reduction (death of 100,000+ cells/mL) of pathogens is the same standard applied to juice products in HACCP guidance from the U.S. FDA, which could be considered a reasonable standard to apply to this same raw, unpasteurized product.

Overall, researchers determined the indigenous microbiota (“probiotics”) in the beverage did not play a strong role in influencing the survival of any pathogens, but instead, survival was strongly influenced by changes in pH (increase in acidity). The type of base tea used to brew kombucha did play a significant role in the survival of pathogens; kombucha brewed from an oolong/black tea mix demonstrated the most rapid reduction in pathogens as opposed to kombucha brewed with green tea. Lastly, strict hygienic practices were recommended for the preparation of the fermented beverage because the combination of sugar content, water activity level, and gradual change in pH in kombucha fermentation were able to provide a perfect storm for the development and survival of some acid-resistant pathogens.

"CAT Squared wants to congratulate Sheridan on his great accomplishment," said CAT Squared CEO Vernon Smith. "We're proud to have such a driven, talented mind on our team."

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Sheridan-1Sheridan Brewer
CAT Squared Implementation Specialist
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Kathy Barbeire

Written by Kathy Barbeire

Throughout my career, I’ve helped organizations think of creative ways to (1) harness new technology to maximize effectiveness, (2) collect relevant data to measure and improve performance, and (3) use data to tell compelling stories to customers and stakeholders. In 2015, I became CAT Squared’s marketing manager. In this role, I monitor industry trends to (1) ensure our products are flexible enough to adapt to new industry standards and (2) prepare our customers for new technologies with the potential to disrupt the industry. I’ve represented CAT Squared as a participant in a blockchain learning group that has grown out of Blockchain for Arkansas (BC4AR), an initiative launched by Governor Asa Hutchinson to promote capacity building around blockchain technology. As my own knowledge and capacity grow, I develop new content to educate our supply chain partners and help them prepare for the transition ahead. Prior to launching my career, I graduated magna cum laude from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) with a Bachelor of Arts degree in professional and technical writing and a double minor in sociology and information technology. I later returned to UALR and completed the MBA program. Before joining CAT Squared, I applied my passion for data-driven storytelling to help nonprofits define their goals, track program metrics, and engage donors and community stakeholders in their missions to fight hunger, poverty, and homelessness, first as a program manager for the Our House Homeless Shelter in Little Rock, and then at The Salvation Army Central Arkansas Area Command.