Submitted to: Proceedings of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers International (ASABE)
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: May 9, 2008
Publication Date: June 28, 2008
Citation: Patel, J.R. 2008. Decontamination of airborne bacteria in meat processing plants. Proceedings of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE). 701P0508CD. Interpretive Summary: Air has been established as a source of bacterial contamination in meat processing facilities. The effect of a reactive oxygen species (ROS) cleaning unit, that generates germicidal air, was evaluated for its ability to reduce airborne bacteria in a meat processing room. The room was aerosolized with large numbers of bacteria prior to testing to create a "worst case" scenario. Air in the room was sampled periodically and analyzed for total aerobic bacteria, Gram-negative bacteria, and lactic acid bacteria. The ROS unit significantly reduced Gram-negative and lactic acid bacterial populations in the air within 24 h. Further ROS treatment continued to reduce the total number of bacteria in the air. This data is useful to meat packers and distributors since it demonstrates that the use of ROS generating units in meat processing facilities may improve food safety and product shelf life.
Technical Abstract: Air has been established as a source of bacterial contamination in meat processing facilities. Airborne bacteria may affect product shelf life, and have food safety implications. The effectiveness of reactive oxygen species (ROS) generating AirOcare equipment on the reduction of airborne bacteria in a meat processing environment was determined. Bacterial strains found in ground beef were used to artificially contaminate the air using a 6-jet Collison nebulizer. Airborne bacterial populations in the meat processing room were monitored every 24 h at multiple locations using a Staplex 6 stage air sampler. Total aerobic, Gram-negative, and lactic acid bacterial populations were determined by sampling on R2A agar, MacConkey agar and Lactobacilli MRS agar, respectively. Approximately 3 log reductions of lactic acid bacteria and Gram-negative bacteria were observed after 24 hours of treatment (P<0.05) compared to ~1.5 log reduction in the control treatment. Further exposure with ROS significantly reduced lactic acid bacteria and Gram-negative bacteria in the air at 48 and 96 h sampling intervals. These findings reveal that reactive oxygen species treatment using an AirOcare unit significantly reduces airborne contamination in a meat processing environment.