Microbiological Quality of Rabbit Meat

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Abstract:

World rabbit meat production is estimated to be over 1 million tons, and Spain is the third largest producer. Although rabbit meat is marketed and consumed worldwide, information on microbiological quality is very scarce. Here, we report indicator organisms, spoilage flora, sensory quality, and some physicochemical traits of 24 h postmortem chilled rabbit carcasses and prepackaged rabbit meat stored chilled in air for 0 to 3 days at the retail level. The mean total bacterial count (4.01 ± 0.48 log CFU/g) for carcasses dressed at a small abattoir by a manual process was significantly lower (P < 0.05) than that (4.96 ± 0.90 log CFU/g) for carcasses dressed at a large abattoir in automated slaughter lines. Both groups of carcasses had mean pH values of 5.98. The dominant contaminants on carcasses from the small abattoir were Pseudomonas, lactic acid bacteria, and yeasts. These microorganisms and Brochothrix thermosphacta were dominant on carcasses from the large abattoir. On prepacked hind legs (pH 6.26 ± 0.18) stored at -1 to +1°C (supermarket 1), mean aerobic mesophilic count was 5.87 ± 1.03 log CFU/g, and the major microbial groups were Pseudomonas, yeasts, lactic acid bacteria, and B. thermosphacta. On prepacked whole carcasses (pH 6.37 ± 0.18) displayed at -1 to +5°C (supermarket 2), mean aerobic mesophilic count was 6.60 ± 1.18 and the same microbial groups were dominant. Relative Escherichia coli incidence was supermarket 2 > large abattoir > supermarket 1 > small abattoir. Overall, low numbers of coliforms, Enterobacteriaceae, psychrotrophic clostridia, coagulase-positive staphylococci, and molds were found. Sensory scores, pH values, and L-lactic acid content differentiated fresh carcasses from retail samples. Data obtained suggest that the microflora of chilled rabbit meat are different from those found on the meat of other animals.

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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Food Hygiene and Food Technology, Veterinary Faculty, University of Leo´n, E-24071 Leo´n, Spain

Publication date: May 1, 2004

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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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