Ham and chopped ham from two manufacturers were contaminated with five enteropathogens: Bacillus cereus, Clostridium perfringens, Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhimurium and Staphylococcus aureus, at time of slicing and vacuum-packaging, to simulate contamination by manufacturer. Subsequent treatment of the samples, representing sound and undesirable retail handling and consumer use conditions, indicated marked differences in the fate of the pathogens between these products and within product type between the two manufacturers. Greatest differences were observed between the chopped ham products. All pathogens, except C. perfringens, grew actively in fresh ham and chopped ham with abusive holding at 30 and 21 C. After storage at 4 or 10 C for 30 days, B. cereus and C. perfringens were no longer detected, even after subsequent holding at 30 or 21 C for 24 h. E. coli survival and growth was variable, S. typhimurium survived well and grew under some conditions and S. aureus was generally inhibited at high levels of competition.

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Author notes

1Supported by funds from Health and Welfare Canada, Research Programs Branch.