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Microbiological Profile of Imported Raw Materials for Ground Beef

Investigators
Koohmaraie, Mohammad
Institutions
USDA - Agricultural Research Service
Start date
2004
End date
2005
Objective
The United States currently imports lean boneless beef trim to meet demands of ground beef production. For the purpose of microbial analysis, imported products are treated as domestic products. However, there is little information on the microbial status of imported beef and virtually none of the existing data has been collected using modern techniques. The primary countries that supply this beef trim are Australia, New Zealand, and Uruguay. The incidence and etiological agents responsible for foodborne disease differ between these countries and the United States. One example is the variation in serotypes of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) most commonly associated with foodborne disease. In the United States and Europe E. coli O157:H7 is the most frequent cause of STEC-associated disease, whereas in Australia and New Zealand STEC infections are due to serotypes O111 and O26.

The objective of this study was to identify differences in the hygienic status and pathogen load between imported and domestic boneless beef used for ground beef.

More information
Findings: The United States currently imports lean boneless beef trim to meet demands of ground beef production. For the purpose of microbial analysis, imported products are treated as domestic products. However, there is little information on the microbial status of imported beef. The primary countries that supply this beef trim are Australia, New Zealand, and Uruguay. It is known that foodborne disease differs between these countries and the United States. This project compared 1040 samples of imported and domestic beef trim by counting the numbers of bacteria that indicate the cleanliness of the beef trim (aerobic bacteria, Enterobacteriaceae, Staphylococcus aureus, coliforms and E. coli). This showed that there are significant differences between all countries in the amount and frequency of contamination. Generally Uruguayan beef trim had the highest levels and Australian beef trim had the lowest. The differences in pathogen load between imported and domestic samples were also determined by screening for the presence of Salmonella, Campylobacter, Listeria, and non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC). Five Salmonella isolates, 7 Campylobacter isolates, 63 Listeria monocytogenes (LM) isolates and 38 STEC isolates were found among the trim samples profiled. LM and STEC were more prevalent in Uruguayan beef trim. The data suggests that importers of beef trim should work with their Uruguayan suppliers to reduce contamination and improve slaughter practices.
Funding Source
Nat'l. Cattlemen's Beef Assoc.
Project number
BC-2004-15
Categories
Escherichia coli
Natural Toxins
Bacterial Pathogens