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Decontamination of Beef Cuts Intended for Blade/Needle or Moisture-Enhancement Tenderization by Surface Trimming versus Rinsing with Solutions of Hot (82°C) Water, Warm (55°C) Lactic Acid or Activated Lactoferrin Plus Warm (55°C) Lactic


Research has shown that the incidence of E. coli O157:H7 on surfaces of beef cuts intended for
blade or needle tenderization is extremely rare. One study showed a 0.2 percent occurrence of E.
coli O157:H7 on 1,014 cuts from six processing facilities throughout the United States. The fact
that E. coli O157:H7 rarely occurs on beef primal and subprimal cuts makes the risk of its
internalization when blade, needle or moisture enhancement tenderization technologies are used
very low. Even though the risks are low, the probability of its occurrence is dramatically
increased if improper cleaning and sanitizing of equipment is practiced. Past research has also
shown that blade tenderization can transfer from 1 to 7 percent of surface contamination to the
interior of the muscle. Needle injection during moisture enhancement can result in a 4 to 8
percent translocation of surface contamination to the center of the cut. While cooking needle
tenderized or moisture enhanced product to sufficient internal temperatures (140°F or higher) has
been shown to destroy E. coli O157:H7, intervention methods applied prior to tenderization
should help prevent the transfer of bacteria to internal surfaces, thus reducing any risks of
foodborne pathogens being passed to consumers.

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Findings: A research study, conducted by Colorado State University for the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and state beef councils by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and funded by beef and veal producers and importers through their $1–per–head checkoff has evaluated and compared the effectiveness of surface trimming, hot water, lactic acid or activated lactoferrin plus lactic acid for reducing levels of E. coli O157:H7 on surfaces of beef cuts and the transference of E. coli O157:H7 from the external surface to the internal surface of non-intact (blade tenderized or moisture enhanced/injected) beef products. Steaks are not generally considered a high-risk source of E. coli O157:H7, unless they are blade tenderized or moisture- enhanced/injected. In this study, little to no E. coli O157:H7 was transferred to the internal surface of outside-round pieces following the application of surface antimicrobial interventions and processing with blade-tenderization or needle-injection/enhancement. Use of any of the interventions evaluated in this study will likely lessen the incidence of transferring E. coli O157:H7 from the external surface to the internal portion of beef cuts and further reduce the risk of an E. coli O157:H7 infection to those who consume tenderized beef products.
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Sofos, John; Belk, Keith; Smith, Gary; Scanga, John
Colorado State University
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