This article is part of a major study designed to collect baseline contamination data by sampling beef carcasses in seven slaughtering plants (four steer–heifer and three cow–bull plants) during both a dry season (November to January) and a wet season (May to June). Samples (n = 30) were excised from each of three carcass anatomical sites (brisket, flank, and rump) at each of three points in the slaughtering chain (pre-evisceration, following final carcass washing, after 24-h carcass chilling). A total of 3,780 samples (100 cm2 each) were analyzed for presence of Salmonella; aerobic plate counts, total coliform counts, and Escherichia coli counts were also made. After 24-h chilling, average incidence (expressed as a percentage) of Salmonella in the brisket, flank, and rump samples, respectively, for steer–heifer carcasses was 0.8 ± 1.7, 0, and 2.5 ± 5.0 for the wet season and 0.8 ± 1.7, 0, and 0 for the dry season; the corresponding percentages for cow–bull carcasses were 4.4 ± 2.0, 2.2 ± 3.9, and 1.1 ± 1.9 for the wet season and 2.2 ± 3.9, 1.1 ± 1.9, and 0 for the dry season. Depending on plant and season, ranges of probabilities of chilled steer–heifer carcasses passing the U.S. regulatory requirements for Salmonella contamination were 0.24 to 1.0 for the brisket, 1.0 for the flank, and 0.002 to 1.0 for the rump; the corresponding ranges for the chilled cow–bull carcasses were 0.25 to 1.0, 0.25 to 1.0, and 0.70 to 1.0. When the number of positive brisket, flank, and rump samples were combined, the probabilities of passing the regulatory requirements were 0.242 to 1.0 and 0.772 to 1.0 for the wet and dry seasons, respectively, in steer–heifer plants and 0.368 to 0.974 and 0.865 to 1.0 in cow–bull plants. Correlation coefficients of aerobic plate counts, total coliform counts, and E. coli counts with Salmonella incidence were higher (P ≤ 0.05) for cow–bull samples that had increased incidence of the pathogen when compared to steer–heifer samples.

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