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Survival of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in Ground-Beef Patties during Storage at 2, −2, 15 and then −2°C, and −20°C

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The survival of Escherichia coli O157:H7 and of a nonpathogenic control strain of E. coli was monitored in raw ground beef that was stored at 2°C for 4 weeks, −2°C for 4 weeks, 15°C for 4 h and then −2°C for 4 weeks, and −20°C. Irradiated ground beef was inoculated with one E. coli control strain or with a four-strain cocktail of E. coli O157:H7 (ca. 105 CFU/g), formed into patties (30 to 45 g), and stored at the appropriate temperature. The numbers of the E. coli control strain decreased by 1.4 log10 CFU/g, and pathogen numbers declined 1.9 log10 CFU/g when patties were stored for 4 weeks at 2°C. When patties were stored at −2°C for 4 weeks, the numbers of the E. coli control strain and the serotype O157:H7 strains decreased 2.8 and 1.5 log10 CFU/g, respectively. Patties stored at 15°C for 4 h prior to storage at −2°C for 4 weeks resulted in 1.6 and 2.7 log10−CFU/g reduction in the numbers of E. coli and E. coli O157:H7, respectively. Storage of retail ground beef at 15°C for 4 h (tempering) did not result in increased numbers of colony forming units per gram, as determined with violet red bile, MRS lactobacilli, and plate-count agars. Frozen storage (−20°C) of ground-beef patties that had been inoculated with a single strain of E. coli resulted in approximately a 1 to 2 log10–CFU/g reduction in the numbers of the control strain and individual serotype O157:H7 strains after 1 year. There was no significant difference between the survival of the control strain and the O157:H7 strains, nor was there a difference between O157:H7 strains. These data demonstrate that tempering of ground-beef patties prior to low-temperature storage accelerated the decline in the numbers of E. coli O157:H7.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Food Research Institute, Department of Food Microbiology and Toxicology, 1925 Willow Drive, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin 53706-1187, USA

Publication date: November 1, 1999

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