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Enrichment, Isolation, and Virulence of Freeze-Stressed Plasmid-Bearing Virulent Strains of Yersinia enterocolitica on Pork

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The influence of freeze stress at −20°C on the enrichment, isolation, detection, presence of virulence plasmid, and expression of virulence of plasmid-bearing Yersinia enterocolitica (YEP+) inoculated on pork chop medallions was assessed. Pork chop medallions (10 cm2) artificially contaminated with 10, 1, and 0.5 CFU/cm2 of YEP+ strains (serotype O:3) were placed in sterile petri dishes at −20°C for 24 h. The medallions were swabbed when frozen, after thawing at room temperature for 1.5 h and after thawing at 4°C for 18 h. Swabs were enriched and YEP+ were detected and isolated using the Congo red–binding and low-calcium-response assays. The YEP+ were isolated under all conditions on pork chop medallions inoculated with 10 CFU/cm2 and at a level of 1 CFU/cm2 when thawed at room temperature and at 4°C but not from frozen pork chop medallions. The YEP+ were not isolated from pork chop medallions inoculated with 0.5 CFU/cm2 and then frozen, whereas YEP+ were recovered when inoculated at this level from pork chop medallions not subjected to freezing. Virulence of the strains isolated from frozen pork chop medallions was confirmed by PCR and the expression of plasmid-associated phenotypes. These results indicate that YEP+ subjected to freezing on pork are potentially capable of causing foodborne illness and that freezing is not a substitute for safe handling and proper cooking of pork.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Microbial Food Safety Research Unit, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Eastern Regional Research Center, 600 East Mermaid Lane, Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania 19038, USA

Publication date: August 1, 2006

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