The efficacy of an electrostatic spraying system (ESS) and/or the sprayed lethality in container (SLIC) method to deliver antimicrobial agents onto the surface of beef subprimals to reduce levels of Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli (STEC) was evaluated. Beef subprimals were surface inoculated (lean side; ca. 5.8 log CFU per subprimal) with 2 mL of an eight-strain cocktail comprising single strains of rifampin-resistant (100 μg/mL) STEC (O26:H11, O45:H2, O103:H2, O104:H4, O111:H, O121:H19, O145:NM, and O157:H7). Next, inoculated subprimals were surface treated with lauric arginate (LAE; 1%), peroxyacetic acid (PAA; 0.025%), or cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC; 0.4%) by passing each subprimal, with the inoculated lean side facing upward, through an ESS cabinet or via SLIC. Subprimals were then vacuum packaged and stored at 4°C. One set of subprimals was sampled after an additional 2 h, 3 days, or 7 days of refrigerated storage, whereas another set was retreated via SLIC after 3 days of storage with a different one of the three antimicrobial agents (e.g., a subprimal treated with LAE on day 0 was then treated with PAA or CPE on day 3). Retreated subprimals were sampled after 2 h or 4 days of additional storage at 4°C. A single initial application of LAE, PAA, or CPC via ESS or SLIC resulted in STEC reductions of ca. 0.3 to 1.3 log CFU per subprimal after 7 days of storage. However, when subprimals were initially treated with LAE, PAA, or CPC via ESS or SLIC and then separately retreated with a different one of these antimicrobial agents via SLIC on day 3, additional STEC reductions of 0.4 to 1.0 log CFU per subprimal were observed after an additional 4 days of storage. Application of LAE, PAA, or CPC, either alone or in combination, via ESS or SLIC is effective for reducing low levels (ca. 0.3 to 1.6 log CFU) of STEC that may be naturally present on the surface of beef subprimals.

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