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Inactivation of Shiga Toxin–Producing O157:H7 and Non-O157:H7 Shiga Toxin–Producing Escherichia coli in Brine-Injected, Gas-Grilled Steaks

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We quantified translocation of Escherichia coli O157:H7 (ECOH) and non-O157:H7 verocytotoxigenic E. coli (STEC) into beef subprimals after brine injection and subsequently monitored their viability after cooking steaks cut therefrom. Beef subprimals were inoculated on the lean side with ca. 6.0 log CFU/g of a five-strain cocktail of rifampin-resistant ECOH or kanamycin-resistant STEC, and then passed once through an automatic brine-injector tenderizer, with the lean side facing upward. Brine solutions (9.9% ± 0.3% over fresh weight) consisted of 3.3% (wt/vol) of sodium tripolyphosphate and 3.3% (wt/vol) of sodium chloride, prepared both with (Lac+, pH = 6.76) and without (Lac, pH = 8.02) a 25% (vol/vol) solution of a 60% potassium lactate–sodium diacetate syrup. For all samples injected with Lac or Lac+ brine, levels of ECOH or STEC recovered from the topmost 1 cm (i.e., segment 1) of a core sample obtained from tenderized subprimals ranged from ca. 4.7 to 6.3 log CFU/g; however, it was possible to recover ECOH or STEC from all six segments of all cores tested. Next, brine-injected steaks from tenderized subprimals were cooked on a commercial open-flame gas grill to internal endpoint temperatures of either 37.8°C (100°F), 48.8°C (120°F), 60°C (140°F), or 71.1°C (160°F). Regardless of brine formulation or temperature, cooking achieved reductions (expressed as log CFU per gram) of 0.3 to 4.1 of ECOH and 0.5 to 3.6 of STEC. However, fortuitous survivors were recovered even at 71.1°C (160°F) for ECOH and for STEC. Thus, ECOH and STEC behaved similarly, relative to translocation and thermal destruction: Tenderization via brine injection transferred both pathogens throughout subprimals and cooking highly contaminated, brine-injected steaks on a commercial gas grill at 71.1°C (160°F) did not kill all cells due, primarily, to nonuniform heating (i.e., cold spots) within the meat.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, 600 East Mermaid Lane, Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania 19038, USA 2: Food Safety Connect, P.O. Box 62, Blacksville, West Virginia 26521, USA 3: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, 1400 Independence Avenue S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250, USA

Publication date: July 1, 2011

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