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ARS Home » Plains Area » Clay Center, Nebraska » U.S. Meat Animal Research Center » Meat Safety & Quality Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #352887

Research Project: Mitigation Approaches for Foodborne Pathogens in Cattle and Swine for Use During Production and Processing

Location: Meat Safety & Quality Research

Title: Novel continuous and manual sampling methods for beef trim microbiological testing

Author
item Wheeler, Tommy
item Arthur, Terrance

Submitted to: Journal of Food Protection
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/6/2018
Publication Date: 9/7/2018
Citation: Wheeler, T.L., Arthur, T.M. 2018. Novel continuous and manual sampling methods for beef trim microbiological testing. Journal of Food Protection. 81(10):1605-1613. https://doi.org/10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-18-197.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-18-197

Interpretive Summary: Beef processors have implemented comprehensive, robust food safety systems to keep meat safe and wholesome for consumers. Beef trim sampling for pathogen testing is one of the final steps in the food safety system. Traditional N60 excision-based sampling is recognized as the gold standard for conducting pathogen testing but has room for improvement since it samples a very small proportion of the trim in a 2000 pound combo bin of beef trimmings destined for ground beef. In this study, two novel, non-destructive sampling technologies, a continuous sampling device (CSD) and a manual sampling device (MSD), that sample a much greater proportion of the trim were compared to the N60 methodologies. Results from over 1400 samples on numerous days across multiple companies, processing plants, and lean types demonstrated that both the CSD and MSD would provide the same or better level of performance for detecting pathogen contamination in beef trim compared to the N60 sampling methods. Implementation of these new trim sampling methods should result in improvement in beef safety with additional benefits in cost, labor, and worker safety.

Technical Abstract: A sampling method that represents a greater proportion of the beef trimmings in a 900-kg combo bin should improve the current pathogen sampling and detection programs used by fresh beef processors. This study compared two novel, nondestructive sampling methodologies (a continuous sampling device [CSD] and a manual sampling device [MSD]) with the current industry methodologies, the N60 Excision (the "gold standard") and N60 Plus, for collection of trim samples. Depending on the experiment, samples were analyzed for naturally occurring Escherichia coli O157:H7 or Salmonella, inoculated surrogates, or indicator organisms in multiple plants, on multiple days, across multiple lean percentage mixtures. Experiments 1A and 1B with natural contamination found no E. coli O157:H7 but similar (P > 0.05) prevalence of Salmonella (CSD 9.2% versus N60 Excision 6.0%) and similar (P > 0.05) levels of indicator organisms for CSD compared with both N60 methodologies. In experiments 2 and 3, CSD cloth sampling had the same or higher prevalence of naturally occurring E. coli O157:H7 and E. coli O157:H7 surrogate organisms, as well as similar levels of indicator organisms compared with the N60 methodologies. In experiment 4, MSD cloth sampling detected similar (P > 0.05) prevalence of E. coli O157:H7 surrogate organisms, as well as slightly lower (P < 0.05) levels of indicator organisms compared with N60 Plus. In experiment 5, the MSD found similar (P > 0.05) prevalence of naturally occurring E. coli O157:H7 and the same or slightly higher (P < 0.05) levels of naturally occurring indicator organisms compared with N60 Plus. In experiment 6, the MSD detected the same (P > 0.05) prevalence of naturally occurring Salmonella as did N60 Excision. The results of these experiments collectively demonstrate that sampling beef trim using either the CSD or MSD provides organism recovery that is similar to or better than the N60 Excision or the N60 Plus methodologies.