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Characterization of E. coli 0157:H7 on Subprimal Beef Cuts Prior to Mechanical Tenderization


<p>Highly publicized outbreaks of food-borne illness since 1993, primarily caused by bacteria such as E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella spp. and Listeria monocytogenes, elicited intense consumer concern about meat safety. In response, regulatory authorities, researchers and the beef industry initiated efforts to implement food safety management systems that would improve microbiological quality. The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) began initiating new regulatory requirements during the mid-1990s. Packers were required to knife-trim carcasses to remove all visible contaminants, comply with written sanitation standard operating procedures (SSOP), implement Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) systems, and meet microbiological performance criteria and standards for E. coli and Salmonella as a means to verify HACCP effectiveness and pathogen reduction. Researchers and beef packers/processors have addressed consumer food 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.</p>

<p>These microbiological decontamination technologies include:</p>

<li>Animal cleaning;</li>
<li>Chemical dehairing at slaughter;</li>
<li>Spot-cleaning of carcasses by knife-trimming or steam/hot water vacuuming; and</li>
<li>Spraying/washing/rinsing of carcasses before evisceration and/or before chilling, with water, chemical solutions and/or steam or hot water.</li>

<p>In January 1999, the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the United States Department of Agriculture (FSIS-USDA) announced the intention to expand the Escherichia coli O157:H7 adulteration policy to include non-intact products. Concerns related to E. coli O157:H7 and blade/needle tenderized, injected/enhanced and restructured beef focus on the possibility that organisms on the surface of the product could be introduced into the deep muscle tissue, thus becoming more likely to survive unless the beef is cooked to a higher internal temperature. The main objective of this study was to determine the extent to which E. coli O157:H7 is present on the surface of subprimal cuts prior to mechanical tenderization in beef processing plants across the U.S.</p>

Warren-Serna, Wendy
Food Safety Net Services (FSNS)
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