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Assumptions of Acceptance Sampling and the Implications for Lot Contamination: Escherichia coli O157 in Lots of Australian Manufacturing Beef

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The aims of this work were to determine the distribution and concentration of Escherichia coli O157 in lots of beef destined for grinding (manufacturing beef) that failed to meet Australian requirements for export, to use these data to better understand the performance of sampling plans based on the binomial distribution, and to consider alternative approaches for evaluating sampling plans. For each of five lots from which E. coli O157 had been detected, 900 samples from the external carcass surface were tested. E. coli O157 was not detected in three lots, whereas in two lots E. coli O157 was detected in 2 and 74 samples. For lots in which E. coli O157 was not detected in the present study, the E. coli O157 level was estimated to be <12 cells per 27.2-kg carton. For the most contaminated carton, the total number of E. coli O157 cells was estimated to be 813. In the two lots in which E. coli O157 was detected, the pathogen was detected in 1 of 12 and 2 of 12 cartons. The use of acceptance sampling plans based on a binomial distribution can provide a falsely optimistic view of the value of sampling as a control measure when applied to assessment of E. coli O157 contamination in manufacturing beef. Alternative approaches to understanding sampling plans, which do not assume homogeneous contamination throughout the lot, appear more realistic. These results indicate that despite the application of stringent sampling plans, sampling and testing approaches are inefficient for controlling microbiological quality.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: South Australian Research and Development Institute, G.P.O. Box 397, Adelaide, South Australia 5001, Australia. 2: Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Division of Food and Nutritional Sciences, P.O. Box 745, Archerfield BC, Queensland 4108, Australia 3: Meat & Livestock Australia, Locked Bag 991, North Sydney, New South Wales 2059, Australia

Publication date: April 1, 2011

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