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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: A Rapid Microbial Atp Bioluminescence Assay for Meat Carcasses

Authors
item Cutter, Catherine
item Dorsa, Warren
item Siragusa, Gregory

Submitted to: Dairy Food and Environmental Sanitation
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 13, 1996
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: In our laboratories, a new, rapid microbial ATP bioluminescence (R-mATP) assay was developed that can be used to determine the levels of generic bacterial contamination on meat animal carcasses. The R-mATP assay does in 5 minutes what standard culture methods for bacterial isolation take 36 hours to accomplish. ATP is the energy molecule of all living cells, including bacteria. A sample with high amounts of ATP may indicate high levels of bacteria, which may be encountered when fecal contamination occurs on the carcass surface. The steps for the R-mATP assay are: 1) a sponge is used to sample the carcass surface; 2) bacteria are removed from the sponge; 3) non-bacterial ATP is removed from the sample; and 4) the remaining bacterial ATP is detected. The R-mATP assay was validated during several in-plant studies with over 1000 beef, pork, and poultry carcasses, resulting in agreements between the R-mATP assay and standard culture methods of over 90%. Implementation of the assay in red meat processing facilities demonstrated that the R-mATP assay can provide processors or meat inspectors with a rapid means to detect microbial contamination on carcasses and allow for improvements in the overall microbial quality of the carcasses before the carcass leaves the slaughter floor. Based on our laboratory and in-plant studies, the R-mATP assay is a rapid and near real time means of estimating the microbial load of an animal carcass.

Technical Abstract: In our laboratories, a new, rapid microbial ATP bioluminescence (R-mATP) assay was developed that can be used to determine the levels of generic bacterial contamination on meat animal carcasses. The R-mATP assay measures the microbial load of animal carcass surfaces by separating somatic ATP from bacterial ATP during a differential chemical extraction and an additional filtration step. This technique offers a very rapid means to segregate somatic ATP from microbial ATP and the subsequent measurement of bacterial ATP for this type of sample. The R-mATP assay was validated during several in-plant studies with beef, pork, and poultry carcasses and correlation analyses were conducted between the ATP bioluminescence reaction and standard plate count data. The rapidity of the R-mATP assay (total test time is 5 minutes including sampling) makes it a potentially useful tool for Hazard Analysis of Critical Control Points (HACCP) monitoring. Information obtained from red meat processing facilities that are using the assay indicates that the R-mATP assay is an effective HACCP monitoring device. Based on our laboratory and in-plant studies, the R-mATP assay is a rapid and near real time means of estimating the microbial load of an animal carcass. The R-mATP assay can be used by meat animal processors or inspectors as a way to monitor the slaughter process for microbial defects and allow for proactive measures rather than retrospective action.

Last Modified: 9/10/2014
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