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Methods for Effectively Controlling E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella during
the Production of Non-Intact Beef Products

Ulbrich, Carson; Taylor, T. Matthew; Savell, Jeffrey; Lucia, Lisa; Harris, Kerri
Texas A&M University
Start date
End date
In 1994 USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) declared E. coli O157:H7 an adulterant in raw ground beef, and in 1999, FSIS clarified that the public health risk by raw beef products contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 was not limited to ground beef, but also included non-intact beef (e.g., tenderized, marinated, and enhanced) products. During the past two years there have also been recalls and illnesses associated with Salmonella on beef products. While the results of research studies have shown the prevalence of pathogens such as E. coli O157:H7 on the surface of beef subprimals is rare, recalls and illnesses associated with non-intact beef products have been reported, and beef processors continue to search for ways to ensure the safety of these products.

While the industry has developed and implemented antimicrobial interventions to reduce E. coli O157:H7 at various steps during harvest, there is limited information on effective interventions that can be applied to chilled primal and subprimals prior to or during the production of non-intact products. Also, the production of non-intact beef products is a complex system because there are multiple production processes used to create these types of products. For example, enhanced products include pumped, pumped and tumbled, vacuum tumbled only, while tenderizing may be done with a blade tenderized, cubing or other techniques. For each of these processes there are different conditions that could impact the pathogen levels that must be considered. The processing sector must have the ability to support the decisions made in the food safety/HACCP programs to demonstrate effective controls for E. coli O157:H7.

Therefore, this project was designed to identify production practices and interventions for chilled subprimals and primal that could be applied prior to or during the production of non-intact beef products to control E. coli O157:H7. These data can be used by beef processors to enhance their food safety/HACCP systems, and to provide scientific support to USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service.

Objectives: To identify optimal production practices and interventions for chilled primal or subprimals that could be applied prior to or during

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Findings: For the high-inoculated strip loins, the 2.5% and 5% lactic acid treatments and the acidified sodium chlorite were responsible for the greatest reduction of microorganisms. For the low inoculated strip loins, the 5% lactic acid and acidified sodium chlorite treatments resulted in the greatest reduction of the microorganisms. Hypobromous acid, peroxyacetic acid, and water treatment were least effective at reducing the microorganism on both the high and low inoculated strip loins. The 2.5% lactic acid treatment was equally effective as all other treatments at reducing the indicator organisms on the low-inoculated strip loins.

For high-inoculated products all treatments, with the exception of the 5% lactic acid, had reduced levels of surface contamination following vacuum tumbling. This effect was not nearly as strong with the low inoculated strip loins. Internalization of indicator organisms post-marination was identical across treatment and control for the low-inoculated strip loins. For the high-inoculated strip loins, the water treatment resulted in the greatest internalization of indicator organisms postmarination, while the control strip loins had the fewest internalization of indicator organisms.

Funding Source
Nat'l. Cattlemen's Beef Assoc.
Project number
Risk Assessment, Management, and Communication
Bacterial Pathogens
Meat, Poultry, Game