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F. SCHVED, M.D. PIERSON AND B.J. JUVEN. 1996. When used separately, 20 mmol l-1 maltol or 1600 AU ml-1 nisin resulted in a 0-0.6 log10 reduction in viable counts of Escherichia coli in a buffer system. However, when added in combination they yielded a 1.8-5.5-log-cycle reduction in viable counts of E. coli at pH 5.0 and 6.8 respectively. It is postulated that maltol (and ethyl maltol) destabilizes the cell outer membrane by chelation of Mg2+ and/or Ca2+, thus permeabilizing the E. coli cell to nisin.