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Occurrence and Survival of Verocytotoxin-Producing Escherichia coli O157 in Meats Obtained from Retail Outlets in The Netherlands

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Abstract:

In 1996 and 1997, 2,941 fresh and processed meat products obtained from supermarkets and butcher shops in The Netherlands were examined for the presence of verocytotoxin-producing Escherichia coli of serogroup O157 (O157 VTEC). Additionally, the fate of O157 VTEC in raw meat products stored at low temperatures and the effect of different additives were evaluated. O157 VTEC strains were isolated from 6 (1.1%) of 571 samples of raw minced beef, 2 (0.5%) of 402 samples of raw minced mixed beef and pork, 1 (1.3%) of 76 samples of raw minced pork, 1 (0.3%) of 393 samples of other raw pork products, and 1 (0.3%) of 328 samples of cooked or fermented ready-to-eat meats. Other raw beef products (n = 223) and meat samples originating from poultry (n = 819), sheep or lamb (n = 46), or wild animals ( n = 83) were all found to be negative for O157 VTEC. For the survival experiments we used tartaar (minced beef with a fat content of less than 10%) and filet americain (tartaar mixed with a mayonnaise-based sauce [80 to 20%]). The O157 VTEC strain tested was able to survive in tartaar and filet americain stored at −20, 0, 5, or 7°C for 3 days. At both 7 and at 15°C, O157 VTEC counts in tartaar and filet americain remained virtually unchanged throughout a storage period of 5 days. Addition of acetic acid (to pH 4.0), sodium lactate (1 and 2% [wt/wt]), or components of the lactoperoxidase–thiocyanate–hydrogen peroxide system to filet americain did not result in a reduction of viable O157 VTEC cells during storage at 7 or 15°C. It was concluded that raw meat contaminated with O157 VTEC will remain a hazard even if the meat is held at low or freezing temperatures.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Inspectorate for Health Protection, P. O. Box 9012, 7200 GN Zutphen, The Netherlands 2: Department of Food Technology and Nutritional Sciences, Wageningen Agricultural University, P. O. Box 8129, 6700 EV, Wageningen, The Netherlands

Publication date: October 1, 1999

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    First published in 1937, the Journal of Food Protection®, is a refereed monthly publication. Each issue contains scientific research and authoritative review articles reporting on a variety of topics in food science pertaining to food safety and quality. The Journal is internationally recognized as the leading publication in the field of food microbiology with a readership exceeding 11,000 scientists from 70 countries. The Journal of Food Protection® is indexed in Index Medicus, Current Contents, BIOSIS, PubMed, Medline, and many others.

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