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Microbiological Sampling of Carcasses by Excision or Swabbing

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Groups of 25 carcasses were obtained by random selection of carcasses at the end of each of eight commercial processes for the dressing or cooling of carcasses. Samples were collected from six groups of pig or beef carcasses by excision or swabbing with sponge, gauze, or cotton wool, with one sample obtained by each of the four methods from a separate, randomly selected site on each carcass. Total aerobic counts, coliforms, and Escherichia coli from each sample were enumerated. Values for the mean log10, log10 mean, and log10 total numbers recovered were calculated for each set of total aerobic counts. Those statistics indicated that the numbers of bacteria recovered by excision or swabbing with sponge or gauze were similar, while the numbers recovered by swabbing with cotton wool were at the lower end of or below the range of the numbers recovered by the other methods. The numbers of coliforms or E. coli recovered from carcasses by sampling areas up to 100 cm2 were too few for the estimation of log mean numbers. Sampling of two groups of carcasses by swabbing with gauze indicated that each 10-fold increase in the area sampled, from 10 to 1,000 cm2, approximately doubled the number of samples from which coliforms or E. coli were recovered. Sampling of six groups of carcasses from one process indicated that the sizes of swabs and volumes of diluent used for processing swabs did not have to be increased proportionally to the area of carcass surface sampled to recover numbers of E. coli proportional to the sampled area. It therefore appears that carcass sampling techniques can be varied widely without compromising the recovery of bacteria, and that the relative efficiencies with which bacteria are recovered by different techniques can be assessed by sampling each carcass in a group of 25 by each of the methods to be compared.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Research Centre, 6000 C&E Trail, Lacombe, Alberta, Canada T4L 1W1

Publication date: February 1, 2000

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