Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Salmonella spp. are two bacteria associated with beef which cause many cases of foodborne illness each year in the United States. During beef slaughter and processing these bacteria may spread from the hide or intestines to the meat. The beef industry is continuously working to eliminate this contamination from the beef before it reaches the consumer. The objective of this research was to investigate the use of naturally occurring compounds (citrus essential oils) from orange peel to reduce or eliminate these two pathogens from beef before it reaches the consumer.
Findings: The citrus essential oils in this study were effective at stopping growth of E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella in pure culture experiments at concentrations of 0.2 to 0.4%. When concentrations of 3% and 6% citrus essential oils were sprayed onto pieces of brisket used to simulate beef carcasses, the oils significantly reduced the concentration of E. coli that was artificially inoculated onto the beef, and total aerobic bacterial counts, in comparison to inoculated, no spray or water sprayed controls, over a period of 90 days.