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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Seasonal Prevalence of Shiga Toxin-Producing Escherichia Coli, Including O157:h7 and Non-O157 Serotypes, and Salmonella in Commercial Beef Processing Plants

item Gallagher, Genevieve
item Arthur, Terrance
item Rivera Betancourt, Mildred
item Nou, Xiangwu
item Shackelford, Steven
item Wheeler, Tommy
item Koohmaraie, Mohammad

Submitted to: Journal of Food Protection
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: June 13, 2003
Publication Date: November 1, 2003
Citation: Gallagher, G.A., Arthur, T.M., Rivera-Betancourt, M., Nou, X., Shackelford, S.D., Wheeler, T.L., Koohmaraie, M. 2003. Seasonal prevalence of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli, including O157:H7 and non-O157 serotypes, and Salmonella in commercial beef processing plants. Journal of Food Protection. 66(11):1978-1986.

Interpretive Summary: Foodborne pathogens of concern to the beef industry include: E. coli O157:H7, which has been implicated in foodborne illness outbreaks associated with ground beef; Salmonella, which is used as an index of sanitation in ground beef processing plants; and other E. coli, called STEC, which can produce the same toxins as E. coli O157:H7 and may cause disease. Human illnesses associated with these pathogens tend to peak during warmer months. Thus, the objective of this study was to determine the seasonal prevalence of these pathogens in beef processing plants by testing feces, hides, carcasses after the hide was removed but before any washes (pre-wash), and carcasses at the end of processing after all antimicrobial treatments (post-wash) were applied. E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella, and STEC were found more often on hides than in feces. E. coli O157:H7 prevalence in feces peaked in the summer, whereas prevalence on hides was higher in spring, summer, and fall than in winter. Of post-wash carcasses, only 1.2% were contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, all at very low levels. Salmonella prevalence peaked in feces in summer and was highest on hides and pre-wash carcasses in summer and fall. Only one post-wash carcass was contaminated with Salmonella (0.1%). STEC prevalence in feces peaked in spring and fall, and on hides it peaked in fall. These data suggest that: (1) pathogen prevalence varies by season and is generally higher during warm months, (2) the levels and incidence of pathogens are reduced dramatically after all antimicrobial treatments, and (3) effective treatments to reduce pathogens on hides could further reduce the incidence of beef contamination. Finally, these results demonstrate the effectiveness of the current interventions used by the beef processing industry and highlight the significance of hides as a major source of pathogens on beef carcasses.

Technical Abstract:

Last Modified: 10/1/2014
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