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Microbiological Status of Fresh Beef Cuts

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Abstract:

Fresh beef samples (n = 1,022) obtained from two processing plants in the Midwest (July to December 2003) were analyzed for levels of microbial populations (total aerobic plate count, total coliform count, and Escherichia coli count) and for the presence or absence of E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella. A fresh beef cut sample was a 360-g composite of 6-g portions excised from the surface of 60 individual representative cuts in a production lot. Samples of fresh beef cuts yielded levels of 4.0 to 6.2, 1.1 to 1.8, and 0.8 to 1.0 log CFU/g for total aerobic plate count, total coliform count, and E. coli count, respectively. There did not appear to be substantial differences or obvious trends in bacterial populations on different cuts. These data may be useful in establishing a baseline or a benchmark of microbiological levels of contamination of beef cuts. Mean incidence rates of E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella on raw beef cuts were 0.3 and 2.2%, respectively. Of the 1,022 samples analyzed, cuts testing positive for E. coli O157:H7 included top sirloin butt (0.9%) and butt, ball tip (2.1%) and for Salmonella included short loins (3.4%), strip loins (9.6%), rib eye roll (0.8%), shoulder clod (3.4%), and clod, top blade (1.8%). These data provide evidence of noticeable incidence of pathogens on whole muscle beef and raise the importance of such contamination on product that may be mechanically tenderized. Levels of total aerobic plate count, total coliform count, and E. coli count did not (P ≥ 0.05) appear to be associated with the presence of E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella on fresh beef cuts. E. O157:H7 was exclusively isolated from cuts derived from the sirloin area of the carcass. Salmonella was exclusively isolated from cuts derived from the chuck, rib, and loin areas of the carcass. Results of this study suggest that contamination of beef cuts may be influenced by the region of the carcass from which they are derived.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Institute for Environmental Health, Inc., 15300 Bothell Way N.E., Seattle, Washington 98155, USA

Publication date: June 1, 2006

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