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Microbial Populations on Animal Hides and Beef Carcasses at Different Stages of Slaughter in Plants Employing Multiple-Sequential Interventions for Decontamination

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Multiple-sequential interventions were applied commercially to reduce beef carcass contamination in eight packing plants. The study evaluated microbial populations on animal hides and changes in carcass microbial populations at various stages in the slaughtering process. Sponge swab samples yielded mean (log CFU/100 cm2) total plate counts (TPC), total coliform counts (TCC), and Escherichia coli counts (ECC) on the exterior hide in the ranges of 8.2 to 12.5, 6.0 to 7.9, and 5.5 to 7.5, respectively, while corresponding contamination levels on carcass surfaces, after hide removal but before application of any decontamination intervention, were in the ranges of 6.1 to 9.1, 3.0 to 6.0, and 2.6 to 5.3, respectively. Following the slaughtering process and application of multiple-sequential decontamination interventions that included steam vacuuming, pre-evisceration carcass washing, pre-evisceration organic acid solution rinsing, hot water carcass washing, postevisceration final carcass washing, and postevisceration organic acid solution rinsing, mean TPC, TCC, and ECC on carcass surfaces were 3.8 to 7.1, 1.5 to 3.7, and 1.0 to 3.0, respectively, while corresponding populations following a 24 to 36 h chilling period were 2.3 to 5.3, 0.9 to 1.3, and 0.9, respectively. The results support the concept of using sequential decontamination processes in beef packing plants as a means of improving the microbiological quality of beef carcasses.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Center for Red Meat Safety, Department of Animal Sciences, Colorado State University, Ft. Collins, Colorado 80523-1171, USA 2: SSI Food Service, Inc., Caldwell, Idaho 83606, USA 3: National Cattlemen's Beef Association, Englewood, Colorado 80155, USA

Publication date: August 1, 2000

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