The International Commission on Microbiological Specifications for Foods (ICMSF) classified Arcobacter spp. as emerging pathogens in 2002. Arcobacter spp. have been isolated from numerous food products at retail and from animal carcasses and feces at slaughter. A survey
was conducted to determine both the prevalence and concentration of Arcobacter spp. on prechill beef carcasses. Surface swab samples were collected from 130 beef carcasses at the end of processing, prior to chilling. The concentration of Arcobacter spp. was determined by a most-probable-number
per square centimeter (3 by 3) method with a limit of detection of 0.12 CFU/cm2. Of the 100 carcasses examined from export abattoirs, 20 (20.0%) were contaminated with Arcobacter spp., and 5 of these had quantifiable levels of contamination ranging from 0.12 to 0.31 CFU/cm2.
Of the 30 carcasses examined at a pet food abattoir, 25 (83.3%) were contaminated with Arcobacter spp., and 10 of these had quantifiable levels of contamination ranging from 0.12 to 0.95 CFU/cm2. Three species of Arcobacter, A. butzleri, A. cryaerophilus, and A.
skirowii, were identified by PCR. Each of the species was present in an approximately equal ratio from export abattoirs. This study demonstrates that slaughter practices at export abattoirs are sufficient to maintain both low prevalence and low levels of contamination of beef carcasses
with Arcobacter spp.
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