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Contamination of Carcasses, Offals, and the Environment with yadA-Positive Yersinia enterocolitica in a Pig Slaughterhouse

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Abstract:

This study was carried out in order to evaluate the contamination of the pig-slaughtering line with pathogenic Yersinia enterocolitica carrying the yadA gene. A total of 292 samples were collected from the slaughterhouse; 131 swab samples from pig carcasses, ears, livers, kidneys, and hearts; 89 swab samples from the environment; and 72 sedimentation samples from the air. All surface samples were studied with both the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and culture methods. The contamination rate of edible pig offals was high with both methods. Using PCR, the detection rates of yadA-positive Y. enterocolitica for livers, kidneys, and hearts were 38, 86, and 63%, respectively, and using the culture method, the detection rates were 31, 69, and 50%, respectively. Pathogenic Y. enterocolitica was also detected from different environmental sites in the slaughterhouse. Using PCR, 13% of the surface samples from the environment were contaminated with yadA-positive Y. enterocolitica. PCR-positive samples were found on the brisket saw, the hook from which the pluck set (heart, lungs, esophagus, trachea, diaphragm, liver, kidneys, and tongue with tonsils) hang, the knife used for evisceration, the floors in the eviscerating area and the weighing area, the meat-cutting table, the aprons used by trimming workers, the computer used in the meat-inspection area, and the coffeemaker used by slaughterhouse workers. The respective detection rate (6%) was considerably lower when we used the culture method. Pathogenic Y. enterocolitica was isolated from the air in the bleeding area. Bioserotype 4/O:3 was the only pathogenic bioserotype isolated in this study. A total of 113 isolates of type 4/O:3 were characterized with pulsed-field gel electrophoresis using NotI and XbaI digests. By combining these profiles, nine different pulsotypes were obtained, the most common of which (1a) was found in 19 (61%) of 31 samples from different sites. This is the same type that has dominated in pig tonsils, which suggests that tonsils may be the source of Y. enterocolitica contamination in the slaughterhouse. The four pulsotypes (1a, 4g, 6g, and 19q) found on edible offals were the same as those found in tonsils, which supports our hypothesis that tonsils are the contamination source for the liver, heart, and kidneys.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Food and Environmental Hygiene, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

Publication date: January 1, 2000

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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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