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Relative response of populations of Escherichia coli and Salmonella enterica to exposure to thermal, alkaline and acidic treatments

Gill, Alexander, Tamber, Sandeep, Yang, Xianqin
International journal of food microbiology 2019 v.293 pp. 94-101
Salmonella enterica, Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli, acid treatment, alkali treatment, beef, cattle, decontamination, heat, heat treatment, humans, lactic acid, models, pH, pork, poultry, serotypes, sodium hydroxide
We evaluated the relative response of generic Escherichia coli (GEC), Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) and Salmonella enterica to heat, alkaline or acid treatments. GEC included strains from carcasses (n = 24) and trim (n = 25) at a small beef plant where no decontamination interventions are used and at a large plant where multiple decontamination interventions are used (carcass n = 25 and trim n = 25). STEC strains belonging to nine serogroups, included isolates from cattle (n = 53), beef (n = 16) and humans (n = 44). S. enterica strains belonging to 29 serotypes, included isolates from humans (n = 30), poultry (n = 26), pork (n = 10) and beef (n = 33). Strains were grown in Brain Heart Infusion (BHI) broth and subjected to the following treatments: 60 °C for 2 min, 5% lactic acid (pH 2.9) for 1 h at 4 °C, or NaOH (pH 11.0) for 2 h at 4 °C. Median log reductions of the GEC populations after heat, alkaline and acid treatment ranged from 2.3 to 3.8, 0.7 to 2.2 and 0.7 to 1.2 log CFU/mL, respectively. No statistically significant difference in reductions was observed between carcass GEC or trim GEC from the large or small plant, except for a greater reduction in trim GEC from the small plant. Median reductions of the STEC populations ranged from 3.3 to 3.5, 0.0 to 0.6, and 0.3 to 0.5 log CFU/mL after heat, alkaline and acid treatment, respectively. The median reductions were not dependent upon isolation source, except between STEC cattle and human isolates after alkaline treatment, where the reduction of the former was higher by 0.6 log unit. For the Salmonella populations, median log reductions ranged from 3.5 to 4.0, 1.7 to 2.4 and 3.7 to 4.1 log CFU/mL after heat, alkaline and acid treatment, respectively. The reductions were not isolation source related. The median log reductions were in the order GEC < STEC < Salmonella after heat treatment and STEC < GEC < Salmonella after alkaline or acid treatment. Overall, the relative response of GEC, STEC and Salmonella in the model system suggests that exposure to heat or pH-based decontamination interventions in meat plants is not associated with increased resistance among E. coli strains in these environments, and total E. coli counts on beef can be indicative of treatment efficacy for the control of Salmonella by heat, lactic acid and alkaline treatment and for the control of STEC subjected to heat.