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Tracing Pathogen Contamination through the Post-Harvest Environment

Investigators
Villarreal, Mariana; Savell, Jeffrey; Lucia, Lisa; Ilhak, Irfan; Harris, Kerri; Genho, Daniel; Castillo, Alejandro; Dickson, James
Institutions
Iowa State University
Texas A&M University
Start date
2008
End date
2009
Objective
Raw beef has been shown to represent a potential source of contamination for the consumer. Hides containing pathogens such as E. coli O157:H7 or Salmonella are among the principal sources of pathogens contaminating carcasses. This contamination mechanism is generally considered a direct transmission from the hide onto the carcass. However, the plant environment may serve as an indirect source of transmission, from the hide to surfaces which may become niches serving as a source for further transfer onto the carcass. This project utilized novel marker organisms to determine if transmission could occur from inoculated hides via environmental sources (walls, floors, general equipment, personal equipment) onto the carcass, and from the carcass with the inoculated hide to subsequent carcasses

The object of this study consisted of inoculating the hide of beef cattle at slaughter with fluorescent nonpathogenic bacteria as surrogates for E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella. The study was conducted at 3 different abattoirs with the objective of identifying the impact of the post-harvest processing environment on pathogen contamination.

More information
Findings: The study was conducted at 3 different abattoirs with the objective of identifying the impact of the post-harvest processing environment on pathogen contamination. Results demonstrated that cross-contamination did occur from the inoculated hide to the carcass, and to subsequent carcasses, as well as from hides or carcasses to the plant environment, personnel garments and equipment. The presence of the pathogen surrogates in environmental samples, although sporadic, indicates that pathogens can be transferred from a contaminated animal to the processing environment during hide removal. For all carcasses that were sampled, the pathogen surrogates were reduced to below detectable levels following the in-plant antimicrobial intervention.
Funding Source
Nat'l. Cattlemen's Beef Assoc.
Project number
BC-2008-15
Categories
Prevention and Control
Salmonella
Escherichia coli