Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: May 1, 2004
Publication Date: May 12, 2004
Citation: Luchansky, J.B. 2004. Recovery, characterization and control of food borne pathogens from slaughter through further processing. The National Food Centre. Athens, Greece. Meeting Abstract. Technical Abstract: In recent years, the food industry and consumers have made significant improvements in the production, manufacture, and/or storage of foods that have appreciably reduced the likelihood of food-related illness. Moreover, several highly publicized and very costly outbreaks and recalls due to contamination of foods with pathogenic bacteria have resulted in greater awareness of food safety for consumers, producers, processors, and regulators. In the United States alone, food borne illness is responsible for about 9,000 deaths each year, with yearly incidences ranging from 24 to 81 million cases and yearly costs ranging from about $5 to $25 billion. In Europe, morbidity from food borne illness is second only to respiratory diseases, with estimates of 50,000 to 300,000 cases of acute gastro-enteritis per million population per year. For these reasons, there remains a critical need to develop, implement, and optimize strategies to better control pathogens both pre- and post-harvest. To meet or exceed the expectations of HACCP, research is necessary to define the incidence and sources of pathogens, as well as the critical control points that reduce hazards to acceptable levels. To this end, we identified the prevalence, source, and types of Salmonella spp., Campylobacter spp., and Escherichia coli in a cooperating swine processing facility. This facility was participating in an experimental inspection system referred to as HACCP based Inspection Models Project (HIMP). A unique aspect of this system is that industry assumes some of the responsibilities of the inspection process and the USDA/FSIS inspectors verify that all requirements are being met. Salmonella were found on 73 of 100 swine at exsanguination and on 20 of 60 fecal samples recovered from these same 100 swine at exsanguination. In contrast, Salmonella were found on 1 of 122 carcasses from among the same lots of swine after the carcasses were further processed and chilled overnight. These data indicate that the HIMP inspection system produced an equivalent level of performance compared to the standard USDA/FSIS inspection process. Genomic fingerprinting of the 581 confirmed Salmonella recovered from the 84 positive samples from this facility revealed that each lot of swine introduces new contaminants into the plant environment and that swine feces from a single animal can contaminate multiple carcasses. In a related study, Campylobacter were detected on 10 of 30 composite carcass samples and on all 30 composite rectal samples at exsanguination. Each composite sample represented 3 swabs from each of 12 carcasses or 1 rectal swab per each of 12 carcasses. Following exsanguination, the pathogen was found on 0 of 30 of these same composite carcass samples after polishing, 2 of 30 immediately before chilling, and 0 of 30 after overnight chilling. The pathogen was also recovered from 48 of 60 individual colon samples from the same lot of animals at evisceration. These data establish that Campylobacter are highly prevalent in the swine intestinal tract upon arrival at the facility and that existing processing parameters are effective for eliminating it from the carcass surface. From colons from this same swine processing facility, we also isolated E. coli O157:H7 from 6 of 305 distal colon samples that contained feces at the first point proximal to the rectum. Future studies should be conducted to firmly establish the association of serotype O157:H7 cells of E. coli with swine so that appropriate interventions can be implemented. Lastly, we also developed interventions to control Listeria monocytogenes on ready-to-eat pork. In brief, our data established that inclusion of "lactates" is effective for preventing outgrowth of low-levels of this pathogen during storage at refrigeration and abuse temperatures and that boiling frankfurters for as little as 36 seconds can result in a 5-log reduction of the pathogen. Collectively, these data highlight the importance of establishing the prevalence, types, and locations of pathogens in foods, food plants, and/or food animals to monitor existing HACCP efforts and when necessary to identify critical control points and develop effective interventions to enhance the quality and safety of food.