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Attachment of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in Ground Beef to Meat Grinders and Survival after Sanitation with Chlorine and Peroxyacetic Acid

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The potential for transfer of Escherichia coli O157:H7 from contaminated ground beef to grinding equipment and the inactivation of attached cells during cleaning and sanitizing was examined. Chub-packed ground beef with lean:fat ratios of 75:25, 80:20, or 90:10 was inoculated with 6 log CFU/g or 2 log CFU/g E. coli O157:H7 strain FRIK 910. Samples were consecutively ground in a Hobart meat grinder with stainless steel (SS) chips (1 cm2) glued to the auger housing. Chips were harvested after grinding, detergent washing with or without manual scrubbing and rinsing, sanitizing in a chlorine or peroxyacetic acid sanitizer, and overnight storage. Survival of E. coli O157:H7 was evaluated both by plate count and enrichment in trypticase soy broth. Approximately 3 to 4 log CFU/cm2 were attached to the SS after grinding with all three fat contents. After washing and sanitizing in a chlorine or peroxyacetic acid sanitizer, viable bacteria were infrequently recovered by plate count. Enrichment of chips resulted in a higher survival rate with both sanitizing treatments, indicating that cell numbers below the limit of detection (5 CFU/cm2) or potentially injured organisms remained on the surface. Manual scrubbing during the washing step reduced the recovery rate. The scrubbing step also increased the number of passing scores assigned using an ATP bioluminescence assay of total residual soil on the chips sanitized in chlorine. The overall results indicate that plate counts alone may not be a reliable indicator of sanitation efficacy and may be validated by enrichment assay.


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Food Research Institute, Department of Food Microbiology and Toxicology, University of Wisconsin–Madison, 1925 Willow Drive, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, USA; NestlĂ© USA, Solon, Ohio 44139, USA 2: Food Research Institute, Department of Food Microbiology and Toxicology, University of Wisconsin–Madison, 1925 Willow Drive, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, USA

Publication date: July 1, 1998

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