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Microbiological Effects of a Routine Treatment for Decontaminating Hide-On Carcasses at a Large Beef Packing Plant.

Yang, X.Q., Badoni, M., Tran, F., and Gill, C.O. (2015). "Microbiological Effects of a Routine Treatment for Decontaminating Hide-On Carcasses at a Large Beef Packing Plant.", Journal of Food Protection, 78(2), pp. 256-263. doi : 10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-14-226  Access to full text


To investigate the microbiological effects of a hide-on carcass decontaminating treatment recently implemented at a beef packing plant, carcasses undergoing routine processing at the plant were sampled during successive periods in January/February, April/May, and September/October. During each period, samples were collected from carcasses before and after the decontamination of hide-on carcasses, after skinning, before decontamination of the skinned carcasses, and at the end of the carcass dressing process. At each stage of processing during each period, samples were obtained by swabbing an area of 1,000 cm2 on each of 25 carcasses. Aerobes, coliforms, and Escherichia coli were enumerated. In most samples, coliforms were predominantly E. coli. In all three periods, the log mean numbers of aerobes and E. coli recovered from hides before decontamination were between 6.6 and 6.8 and between 5.3 and 5.9 log CFU/1,000 cm2, respectively. The log mean numbers of aerobes recovered from decontaminated hides were 6.6 log CFU/1,000 cm2 in January/February and April/May but 5.4 log CFU/1,000 cm2 in September/October. The log total numbers of E. coli recovered from decontaminated hides in January/February and April/May were 2.4 and 3.8 log CFU/25,000 cm2, respectively, but no E. coli was recovered from such carcasses in September/October. Log total numbers of aerobes and E. coli recovered from skinned or dressed carcasses were mostly ≥4 and between 1 and 2 log CFU/25,000 cm2, respectively. Typing of 480 E. coli isolates by multiple-locus variable-number tandem repeat analysis (MLVA) identified 218 MLVA types. Most isolates recovered from carcasses in different periods or at different stages of processing were of different MLVA types. However, small numbers of MLVA types were recovered in more than one period or from both hides before and after decontamination and skinned or dressed carcasses. The findings show that the hide-decontaminating treatment disrupted the usual transfer of E. coli from hides to meat surfaces during carcass skinning.

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