Trimming and Washing of Beef Carcasses as a Method of Improving the Microbiological Quality of Meat.

Research paper by James O JO Reagan, Gary R GR Acuff, Dennis R DR Buege, Marietta J MJ Buyck, James S JS Dickson, Curtis L CL Kastner, James L JL Marsden, J Brad JB Morgan, Ranzell R Nickelson, Gary C GC Smith, John N JN Sofos

Indexed on: 07 Jun '19Published on: 01 Jul '96Published in: Journal of food protection


A study to compare procedures and interventions for removing physical and bacterial contamination from beef carcasses was conducted in six carcass conversion operations that were representative of modern, high-volume plants and located in five different states. Treatment procedures included trimming, washing, and the current industry practice of trimming followed by washing. In addition, hot (74 to 87.8°C at the pipe) water washing and rinsing with ozone (0.3 to 2.3 ppm) or hydrogen peroxide (5%) were applied as intervention treatments. Beef carcasses were deliberately contaminated with bovine fecal material at >4.0 log colony-forming units (CFU)/cm in order to be better able to observe the decontaminating effects of the treatments. Carcasses were visually scored by 2 to 3 trained personnel for the level of gross contamination before and after treatment. Samples (10 by 15 cm, 0.3 to 0.5 cm thick) for microbiological testing were excised as controls or after application of each procedure or intervention and analyzed for aerobic mesophilic plate counts, Escherichia coli Biotype I counts, and presence or absence of Listeria spp., Salmonella spp., and Escherichia coli O157:H7. Average reductions in aerobic plate counts were 1.85 and 2.00 log CFU/cm for the treatments of trimming-washing and hot-water washing, respectively. Hydrogen peroxide and ozone reduced aerobic plate counts by 1.14 and 1.30 log CFU/cm, respectively. In general, trimming and washing of beef carcasses consistently resulted in low bacterial populations and scores for visible contamination. However, the data also indicated that hot- (74 to 87.8°C at the pipe) water washing was an effective intervention that reduced bacterial and fecal contamination in a consistent manner.