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Role of Bacterial Association and Penetration on Destruction of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in Beef Tissue by High pH

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This study was undertaken to determine if association with collagen enables Escherichia coli O157:H7 to resist high-pH treatments and to determine the effects of high pH on the survival of E. coli O157:H7 within different layers of beef tissue. E. coli O157:H7 was inoculated onto purified bovine type I collagen on 12-mm2 circular glass coverslips, plain 12-mm2 circular glass coverslips (control), and 12-mm2 irradiated (cobalt-60) lean beef tissue. The rates of destruction of E. coli O157: H7 inoculated on coverslips in pH 10.5 NaHCO3-NaOH buffer at 35°C were determined at various sampling times. E. coli O157:H7 cells associated with collagen and treated in the same manner were also examined using scanning electron microscopy to determine if association with collagen enabled the organism to resist high-pH treatments. The inoculated tissue was treated in pH 13.0 NaHCO3-NaOH buffer at 25°C, and penetrating cells of E. coli O157:H7 were recovered using a cryostat technique. There was no significant difference (P < 0.05) between the rates of destruction of collagen-associated E. coli O157:H7 and non–collagen-associated E. coli O157:H7 following exposure to high-pH treatments. Scanning electron micrographs showed that collagen-associated E. coli O157:H7 cells appeared physically damaged by exposure to high-pH treatments, and association of E. coli O157:H7 to collagen did not increase the resistance of the organism to destruction by high-pH rinses. No significant differences were seen between 20 ml of NaHCO3-NaOH buffer at pH 13.0 (treatment) and 20 ml of distilled water at pH 7.0 (control) when E. coli O157:H7 cells were recovered in beef tissue at depths of up to 2,000 μm (P < 0.05). The ability of E. coli O157:H7 to penetrate beef tissue may be an important factor in reducing the effectiveness of high-pH treatments in killing this organism on beef tissue. This finding should be considered in the future when designing treatments to decontaminate beef carcasses.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Food Processors Institute, 1350 I Street N.W., Washington, D.C. 20005, USA 2: 116 Borland Laboratory, Department of Food Science, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802, USA

Publication date: January 1, 2000

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