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F-coliphages, porcine adenovirus and porcine teschovirus as potential indicator viruses of fecal contamination for pork carcass processing

Jones, T.H., Muehlhauser, V. (2017). F-coliphages, porcine adenovirus and porcine teschovirus as potential indicator viruses of fecal contamination for pork carcass processing, 241 237-243. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2016.10.032

Abstract

© 2016 There are concerns about the zoonotic transmission of viruses through undercooked pork products. There is a lack of information on suitable indicator viruses for fecal contamination with pathogenic enteric viruses in the meat processing chain. The study compared the incidence and levels of contamination of hog carcasses with F-coliphages, porcine teschovirus (PTV), and porcine adenovirus (PAdV) at different stages of the dressing process to assess their potential as indicator viruses of fecal contamination. One hundred swab samples (200 cm2) were collected from random sites on hog carcasses at 4 different stages of the dressing process and from retail pork over the span of a year from 2 pork processing plants (500/plant). Viable F-coliphages, PAdV DNA and PTV RNA were each detected on ≥ 99% of the incoming carcasses at both plants and were traceable through the pork processing chain. Significant correlations were observed between viable F-coliphages and PAdV DNA and between F-coliphages and PTV RNA but not between PAdV DNA and PTV RNA at the various stages of pork processing. Detection of viable F-coliphages was more sensitive than genomic copies of PAdV and PTV at low levels of contamination, making F-coliphages a preferred indicator in the pork slaughter process as it also provides an indication of infectivity. For plant A, F-RNA coliphages were detected in 25%, 63%, and 21% of carcass swabs after pasteurization, evisceration, and retail pork products, respectively. For plant B, F-coliphages were detected in 33%, 25%, and 13% of carcass swabs after skinning, evisceration, and retail pork samples, respectively. Viable F-RNA coliphages were genotyped. Viable F-RNA GII and GIII were generally not detected at the earlier stages of the slaughter process but they were detected on 13% of carcasses after evisceration and 2% of retail pork samples at plant A, which raises concerns of potential food handler contamination during pork processing. Consumers could be at risk when consuming undercooked meat contaminated with pathogenic enteric viruses.

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