Determination of sources of Escherichia coli on beef by multiple-locus variable-number tandem repeat analysis.

Yang, X.Q., Tran, F., Youssef, M.K., and Gill, C.O. (2015). "Determination of sources of Escherichia coli on beef by multiple-locus variable-number tandem repeat analysis.", Journal of Food Protection, 78(7), pp. 1296-1302. doi : 10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-15-014  Access to full text

Abstract

The possible origin of Escherichia coli found on cuts and trimmings in the breaking facility of a beef packing plant was examined using multiple-locus variable-number tandem repeat analysis. Coliforms and E. coli were enumerated in samples obtained from 160 carcasses that would enter the breaking facility when work commenced and after each of the three production breaks throughout the day, from the conveyor belt before work and after each break, and from cuts and trimmings when work commenced and after each break. Most samples yielded no E. coli, irrespective of the surface types. E. coli was recovered from 7 (<5%) carcasses, at numbers mostly ≤1.0 log CFU/160,000 cm2. The log total numbers of E. coli recovered from the conveyor belt, cuts, and trimmings were mostly between 1 and 2 log CFU/80,000 cm2. A total of 554 E. coli isolates were recovered. Multiple-locus variable-number tandem repeat analysis of 327 selected isolates identified 80 distinct genotypes, with 37 (46%) each containing one isolate. However, 28% of the isolates were of genotypes that were recovered from more than one sampling day. Of the 80 genotypes, 65 and 2% were found in one or all four sampling periods throughout the day. However, they represented 23 and 14% of the isolates, respectively. Of the genotypes identified for each surface type, at least one contained ≥9 isolates. No unique genotypes were associated with carcasses, but 10, 17, and 19 were uniquely associated with cuts, trimmings, and the belt, respectively. Of the isolates recovered from cuts, 49, 3, and 19% were of genotypes that were found among isolates recovered from the belt, carcasses, or both the belt and carcasses, respectively. A similar composition was found for isolates recovered from trimmings. These findings show that the E. coli found on cuts and trimmings at this beef packing plant mainly originated from the conveyor belt and that small number of E. coli strains survived the daily cleaning and sanitation process, thus persisting in the plant.

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