In this work, the goal was to determine the efficacy of MicroTally-based sampling in scenarios commonly encountered in the commercial beef processing industry, but outside of the parameters evaluated during the initial proof-of-concept work. The data were derived from 1,650 matched samples collected from 540 individual combo bins at six commercial beef processing plants, comparing MicroTally-based sampling (continuous and manual sampling devices [CSD and MSD]) to N60 Excision and/or N60 Plus methods. Mounting a 61-cm CSD cartridge to a 30-cm-wide conveyor provided sampling that is equivalent to N60 Excision and N60 Plus methods. Mounting a CSD to a chute instead of a conveyor was equivalent to the N60 Plus sampling method. The CSD was shown to be effective for sampling when used in conjunction with a “swinging arm trim diverter” and receiving product in batch mode as opposed to continuous flow. MSD sampling of oval combo bins with trim surface area (≈0.93 m2 [≈1,439 in2]) less than 1 m2 (1,600 in2) was shown to be equivalent to the N60 Plus sample collection method. Peracetic acid applied at the end of the trim conveyor did not negatively impact pathogen index target detection of the CSD even if the samples were shipped overnight before analysis. Pathogen index targets were demonstrated to be useful tools for validating methods designed to measure pathogen prevalence. The data presented herein support equivalency criteria of within 0.5 log CFU per sample for indicator organism counts. These data collectively support various alternative applications of MicroTally-based trim sampling and the application and interpretation of alternative methods for pathogen detection.
CSD cartridges used in a variety of mountings were equivalent to N60 methods.
MSD sampling of combo bins with surface area <1 m2 was equivalent to N60 Plus.
Pathogen index targets are useful alternatives for detection of rare pathogens.