Survival of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in Ground Beef Jerky Assessed on Two Plating Media

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Recent outbreaks of food-borne illness due to Salmonella spp. in beef jerky and Escherichia coli O157:H7 in venison jerky, coupled with the fact that a variety of preparation methods and drying procedures abound, raise concern over the safety of processed meat products made in the home. The potential of injured bacterial cells to regain the ability to cause illness is a particular threat with pathogens such as E. coli O157:H7, which is believed to have a low infectious dose. This study examined the efficacy of various methods of jerky preparation in reducing populations of E. coli O157:H7 in ground beef jerky and compared the recovery rate of E. coli O157:H7 on two selective plating media, modified sorbitol MacConkey agar (MSMA) and modified eosin methylene blue agar (MEMB). Populations of E. coli O157:H7 in both heated and unheated samples exhibited a greater decline during drying when a nitrite and salt cure mix was added during jerky preparation. When recovery of E. coli O157:H7 on MSMA and MEMB was compared, a trend toward slightly higher recovery rates with MEMB was observed. On the basis of these results, MEMB is a suitable alternative to MSMA for the recovery of E. coli O157:H7 from heated and dried meat samples similar to beef jerky.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Cooperative Extension Service, Hoke Smith Annex, Athens, Georgia 30602, USA 2: Center for Food Safety and Quality Enhancement, Department of Food Science and Technology, Food Science Building, The University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602, USA

Publication date: January 1, 1998

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