An in-depth look at E. coli interventions
Posted: June 26th, 2012 - 10:00am
Some strains of the enterohemorragic group of E. coli and other shiga toxin-producing serotypes (STEC), such as the O157:H7, O26, O91, O103, O111, O118, O145 and O166 serogroups, are capable of causing human illnesses ranging from bloody diarrhea and hemorrhagic colitis to a lethal condition identified as hemolytic uremic syndrome. Since 1994, when FSIS declared E. coli O157:H7 to be an adulterant in ground beef, a lot of resources have been focused on interventions (best slaughter, dressing and fabrication practices) to reduce the presence of E. coli O157:H7 in raw meat products.
There are several ways by which E. coli O157:H7 may be introduced into the fabrication process of meat products. Most of these contamination pathways have been extensively studied and researched, revealing that hides and skin, gastrointestinal tract contents, workers poor hygiene and environmental conditions are significant role players in the contamination process. Consequently, developing and implementing successful intervention strategies against E. coli has been the recent focus for the meat industry.
In general, chemical interventions are applications of chemicals approved for use in carcass surfaces to reduce or eliminate bacterial counts, and they are utilized in the meat industry as a component of a multi-hurdle strategy. Some of these hurdles include hide washing, sanitary hide removal, knife trimming, hot carcass wash, steam vacuum and steam pasteurization. These may be applied at different steps of the process: during dehairing and/or during hide washing, after dehiding and/or after evisceration and are intended to act by lowering the pH on the surface of the meat.