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Contamination revealed by indicator microorganism levels during veal processing

Joseph M. Bosilevac, Rong Wang, Brandon E. Luedtke, Tommy L. Wheeler, Mohammad Koohmaraie
Journal of food protection 2016 v.79 no.8 pp. 1341-1347
Escherichia coli, Food Safety and Inspection Service, anti-infective agents, bacterial contamination, beef carcasses, coliform bacteria, food contamination, plate count, veal, veal calves, United States
During site visits of veal processors, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) has reported processing deficiencies that likely contribute to increased levels of veal contamination. Here, we report the results of measuring aerobic plate count bacteria (APC), Enterobacteriaceae, coliforms (CF), and Escherichia coli during eight sample collections at five veal processors to assess contamination during the harvest of bob veal and formula-fed veal before (n = 5 plants) and after (n =3 plants) changes to interventions and processing practices. Hides of veal calves at each plant had mean log CFU/100 cm2 APC, Enterobacteriaceae, CF, and E. coli of 6.02 to 8.07, 2.95 to 5.24, 3.28 to 5.83, and 3.08 to 5.59, respectively. Preintervention carcasses had mean log CFU/100 cm2 APC, Enterobacteriaceae, CF, and E. coli of 3.08 to 5.22, 1.16 to 3.47, 0.21 to 3.06, and 0.07 to 3.10, respectively, before and 2.72 to 4.50, 0.99 to 2.76, 0.69 to 2.26, and 0.33 to 2.12, respectively, after changes were made to improve sanitary dressing procedures. Final veal carcasses had mean log CFU/100 cm2 APC, Enterobacteriaceae, CF,and E. coli of 0.36 to 2.84,0.21 to 1.59,0.23 to 1.59, and0.38 to 1.45 before and 0.44 to 2.64,0.16 to 1.33,0.42 to 1.20, and0.48 to 1.09 after changes were made to improve carcass-directed interventions. Whereas the improved dressing procedures resulted in improved carcass cleanliness, the changes to carcass-directed interventions were less successful, and veal processors are urged to use techniques that ensure uniform and consistent delivery of antimicrobials to carcasses. Analysis of results comparing bob veal to formula-fed veal found bob veal hides, preintervention carcasses, and final carcasses to have increased (P<, 0.05) APC, Enterobacteriaceae, CF, and E. coli (with the exception of hide Enterobacteriaceae; P . 0.05) relative to formula fed veal. When both veal categories were harvested at the same plant on the same day, similar results were observed. Since identification by FSIS, the control of contamination during veal processing has started to improve, but challenges still persist.