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Survival of Escherichia coli O157:H7 after Freezing and Thawing in Ground Beef Patties

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Survival of Escherichia coli O157:H7 strains QA 326, and ATCC 43889, 43894, and 43895 after freezing (-20°C, 24 h) and thawing (4°C for 12 h, 23°C for 3 h, or microwave heating of 700 W for 120s) in ground beef patties was determined by reference most probable number (MPN), hydrophobic grid membrane filter SD-39 agar, and sorbitol MacConkey agar (SMA) spread-plating methods. Populations decreased from 0.62 to 2.52 log10 CFU/g, with the extent varying significantly by strain. Strain QA 326 populations almost always decreased the most, up to 1.87 log10 CFU/g more than the least sensitive strain. Microwave heating was the most lethal thawing treatment for strain QA 326, and 4°C thawing was the most lethal treatment for strain ATCC 43894. Thawing treatments varied in relative lethality for the other two strains. For strain QA 326 (4°C and microwave thaw treatments) and strain ATCC 43889 (4 and 23°C thawing), the enumeration method significantly affected a population decrease. The SD-39 agar method best recovered strain QA 326 while the SD-39 agar method and the reference MPN method best recovered strain ATCC 43889 after 4 and 23°C thawing, respectively. The greatest difference in population decrease measured by any two methods was 0.58 log10 CFU/g. Results showed (i) a wide range in freeze-thaw sensitivity among E. coli O157:H7 strains, (ii) no thawing method had consistently and significantly greater lethality, and (iii) the reference MPN, SD-39 agar, and SMA methods differed little in ability to enumerate E. coli O157:H7.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Wisconsin-Madison, Department of Food Science, 1605 Linden Drive, Madison, Wisconsin 53706-1565, USA

Publication date: September 1, 1998

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