Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Keeping E. Coli Out Of Meat

Date:
November 13, 2006
Source:
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Summary:
A University of Illinois food scientist has discovered that certain solutions used by meat processors to extend shelf life actually do double duty as antimicrobial agents, killing such virulent foodborne pathogens as E. coli 0157:H7.

Scanning electron micrograph of Escherichia coli.
Credit: Rocky Mountain Laboratories, NIAID, NIH

A University of Illinois food scientist has discovered that certain solutions used by meat processors to extend shelf life actually do double duty as antimicrobial agents, killing such virulent foodborne pathogens as E. coli 0157:H7.

That's important because E. coli can be spread via recycled solutions used to tenderize and enhance flavor in steaks, chops, and other cuts of meat, said U of I food science professor Susan Brewer.

The problem motivated Brewer and her graduate students to study the process used to inject meat with enhancement solutions before they're offered to consumers. And the results, published in the Journal of Food Science and Meat Science, have interested industry representatives.

"We wanted to find a point in the process at which we could exert some kind of control to keep foodborne pathogens from becoming a problem," said Brewer.

Brewer said that needle injection has been widely used for decades to tenderize meats, and more recently the fresh-meat industry has adopted the use of enhancement solutions, a practice that poultry and ham processors have used for years with very few problems.

"A certain amount of fat makes meat juicy and tasty, but in recent years consumers have been demanding leaner and leaner cuts of meat. Processors are now using the needles that tenderize steaks and chops to inject solutions that make the meat taste better and last longer," she said.

Picture a continuous end-line process in which needles inject cuts of meat with flavor boosters and shelf-life extenders. A basin catches fluid that goes through the meat or runs off the surface, and the solution is recycled into the system.

"With needle injection, organisms that exist on the outside of a piece of meat can get poked down into the meat where they're less likely to be killed if consumers like their meat on the rare side," said Brewer.

Also, as the needles inject one piece of meat after another, they can spread contamination from one piece of meat to another, and recycled enhancement solution can further complicate the spread of pathogens.

At this point, Brewer and her graduate students inserted themselves into the process to learn how contamination was likely to occur and how it could be controlled.

The scientists did two studies; in the first, they contaminated the surface of meat with E. coli K12, an indicator organism for its more dangerous relative, to observe the pathogen's progress as meat went through the system.

"We inoculated meat at various microbial loads, with some seriously nasty surface contamination on some pieces of meat," she said.

In the second study, they added E. coli K12 into the enhancement solution itself, experimenting with different components and combinations.

The scientists found that some solutions used to extend the shelf-life of meat also were effective at killing bacteria. "In certain solutions containing sodium lactate or sodium diacetate, bacteria cells couldn't grow and were substantially reduced. These shelf-life enhancers definitely work, and it really doesn't make any difference whether the steak itself or the solution is contaminated," Brewer said.

Brewer says the threat level for such meat cuts as chops, steaks, and roasts is not high, although ground meat not cooked to high temperatures can be dangerous. "You're always safe cooking red meat to 160 degrees, but if you have questions about food safety, check the USDA's Meat and Poultry Hotline at http://www.usda.gov," she said.

"The meat industry has been very proactive in attempting to prevent contamination of their products. They have an awful lot to lose if such an outbreak occurs," she said.

"But consumers should realize that the cook is the last point of control for eliminating these toxic organisms," she added.

"If meat is cooked until it's well done, you won't have a problem. These organisms are living cells, and they're fairly easily destroyed by heat, even E. coli 0157:H7," she said.

Co-authors of the published papers were Brewer and graduate students C. L. Nicholalde, D. D. Paulson, M. C. Rojas, A. J. Stetzer, E. M. Tucker, R. A. Wicklund, and S. E. Wicklund.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Keeping E. Coli Out Of Meat." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 November 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/11/061110092234.htm>.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (2006, November 13). Keeping E. Coli Out Of Meat. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/11/061110092234.htm
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Keeping E. Coli Out Of Meat." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/11/061110092234.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Newsy (July 24, 2014) Sheik Umar Khan has treated many of the people infected in the Ebola outbreak, and now he's become one of them. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Condemned Man's US Execution Takes Nearly Two Hours

Condemned Man's US Execution Takes Nearly Two Hours

AFP (July 24, 2014) America's death penalty debate raged Thursday after it took nearly two hours for Arizona to execute a prisoner who lost a Supreme Court battle challenging the experimental lethal drug cocktail. Duration: 00:55 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) A study by German researchers claims watching TV while you're stressed out can make you feel guilty and like a failure. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins