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Determination of the Most Effective Intervention Strategy for Microbiological Reduction on Cattle Hides Prior to Removal

Bellinger, Gina; Belk, Keith
Colorado State University
Food Safety Net Services (FSNS)
Start date
End date
The reduction of E. coli O157:H7 in both pre- and post-harvest areas continues to be a major goal of the beef industry. It has been demonstrated that cattle hides are the major source of E. coli O157:H7 contamination in processing plants. The reduction of E. coli O157:H7 on cattle hides will go a long way in ensuring the safety of the beef supply.

Researchers and beef packers/processors have addressed beef safety concerns by developing a variety of methods that are now implemented, or are being further developed, to reduce numbers of bacteria on beef and beef products and improve microbiological safety. These microbiological decontamination technologies include: � Animal cleaning; � Chemical dehairing at slaughter; � Spot-cleaning of carcasses by knife-trimming or steam/hot water vacuuming; and � Spraying/washing/rinsing of carcasses before evisceration and/or before chilling, with water, chemical solutions and/or steam or hot water.

The most commonly used decontamination strategies involve the use of water and steam at various temperatures and spray pressures. Other decontamination strategies involve the use of FDA-approved chemicals applied through water-based sprays.

The objectives of this study were, 1) to analyze the effectiveness of seven hide wash treatments for reducing E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella spp. and 2) assess how each treatment affects the value of the hide as a raw material for leather manufacture.

More information
All of the hide washing/dehairing treatments decreased pathogen counts on cattle hides. With the exception of one dehairing treatment (Potassium Cyanate), leather quality was actually enhanced due to the treatment. These results suggest that, with one exception, these treatments have a positive effect on hide quality and a positive effect on beef safety.
Funding Source
Nat'l. Cattlemen's Beef Assoc.
Project number
Escherichia coli