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Incidence of Clostridium perfringens in Commercially Produced Cured Raw Meat Product Mixtures and Behavior in Cooked Products during Chilling and Refrigerated Storage

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A total of 445 whole-muscle and ground or emulsified raw pork, beef, and chicken product mixtures acquired from industry sources were monitored over a 10-month period for vegetative and spore forms of Clostridium perfringens. Black colonies that formed on Shahidi-Ferguson perfringens (SFP) agar after 24 h at 37°C were considered presumptive positive. Samples that were positive after a 15-min heat shock at 75°C were considered presumptive positive for spores. Of 194 cured whole-muscle samples, 1.6% were positive; spores were not detected from those samples. Populations of vegetative cells did not exceed 1.70 log10 CFU/g and averaged 1.56 log10 CFU/g. Of 152 cured ground or emulsified samples, 48.7% were positive, and 5.3% were positive for spores. Populations of vegetative cells did not exceed 2.72 log10 CFU/g and averaged 1.98 log10 CFU/g; spores did not exceed 2.00 log10 CFU/g and averaged 1.56 log10 CFU/g. Raw bologna (70% chicken), chunked ham with emulsion, and whole-muscle ham product mixtures were inoculated with C. perfringens spores (ATCC 12916, ATCC 3624, FD1041, and two product isolates) to ca. 3.0 log10 CFU/g before being subjected either to thermal processes mimicking cooking and chilling regimes determined by in-plant temperature probing or to cooking and extended chilling regimes. Populations of C. perfringens were recovered on SFP from each product at the peak cook temperatures, at 54.4, 26.7, and 7.2°C, and after up to 14 days of storage under vacuum at 4.4°C. In each product, populations remained relatively unchanged during chilling from 54.4 to 7.2°C and declined slightly during refrigerated storage. These findings indicate processed meat products cured with sodium nitrite are not at risk for the growth of C. perfringens during extended chilling and cold storage.


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: John Morrell & Co., 805 East Kemper Road, Cincinnati, Ohio 45246-2515, USA

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