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Variations in External and Internal Microbial Populations in Shell Eggs during Extended Storage

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The current project was conducted to determine the microbial quality of commercially processed shell eggs during extended storage. Unwashed eggs were collected at the accumulator before entering the processing line. Washed eggs were retrieved after placement in flats. All eggs were stored on pulp flats at 4°C for 10 weeks. Twelve eggs from each treatment were rinsed on the day of collection and during each week of storage. After rinsing, eggs were sanitized in ethanol, and contents were aseptically collected. Total aerobes, yeasts and molds, Enterobacteriaceae, and pseudomonads were enumerated from shell rinses and pooled egg contents. During storage, no differences were found between unwashed and washed eggs for Enterobacteriaceae and pseudomonads in either shell rinses or contents. No differences were found between treatments for population levels of total aerobes or yeasts and molds in the egg contents throughout the storage period. Significant differences between treatments were found at each week of storage for external shell contamination by total aerobes. The highest unwashed egg contamination occurred at week 8 of storage and the lowest was at weeks 0 and 1 of storage. The highest shell contamination with aerobic bacteria on the washed eggs was found at week 0 of storage and the lowest was at week 7. Yeast and mold contamination determined by shell rinses was also significantly different between treatments at each week of storage. Commercially washed eggs were significantly less contaminated than were unwashed eggs for the populations monitored.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Russell Research Center, Poultry Processing and Meat Quality Research Unit, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Athens, Georgia 30605, USA

Publication date: December 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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