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J Appl Microbiol. 2011 Mar;110(3):840-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2672.2011.04943.x. Epub 2011 Feb 1.

Characterization of an extremely heat-resistant Escherichia coli obtained from a beef processing facility.

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1
Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada.

Abstract

AIMS:

This study aimed to determine the survival of Escherichia coli strains during steam and lactic acid decontamination interventions currently used by the beef-processing industry, and to determine their heat resistance.

METHODS AND RESULTS:

Strains were grouped into cocktails of five strains each differing in their RAPD patterns for subsequent identification. Steam and lactic acid treatments on meat reduced cell counts of E. coli strain cocktails by 90-99%. The 20 slaughter plant isolates exhibited only minor variation in their resistance to steam and lactic acid treatments but were more resistant than reference strains (three strains) or isolates from live cattle (seven strains). D(60) values of strains from live cattle, and reference strains ranged from 0·1 to 0·5 min, in keeping with literature data. However, D(60) values of current slaughter plant isolates ranged between 15 for E. coli DM18.3 and 71 min AW 1.7. Cell counts of E. coli AW 1.7 were reduced by <5 log(10) CFU g(-1) in ground beef patties cooked to an internal temperature of 71°C.

CONCLUSIONS:

Strains of E. coli that survive cooking of ground beef to the recommended internal temperature of 71°C can be isolated from beef-processing facilities.

SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPACT OF THE STUDY:

Pathogen interventions in current commercial beef slaughter may select for extremely heat-resistant strains of E. coli.

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