Mesophilic and psychrotrophic bacterial counts of hot-boned and conventionally treated cuts from 15 steers were low [Log 0–2 colony forming units (CFU)/cm2] at 0 time; and after 14 days of vacuum-packaged storage (2.2 C), hot-boned cuts had higher counts than conventionally-treated cuts. In the first experiment involving 10 steers, the mesophilic and psychrotrophic counts for hot-boned cuts were Log 5.26 CFU/cm2 and Log 5.15 CFU/cm2, respectively, and for conventionally treated cuts, log 4.64 CFU/cm2 and Log 4.43 CFU/cm2, respectively. In the second experiment involving 5 steers, the mesophilic and psychrotrophic counts were Log 6.62 CFU/cm2 and Log 6.61 CFU/cm2, respectively, for hot-boned cuts; and Log 5.93 CFU/cm2 and Log 4.91 CFU/cm2, respectively, for conventionally treated cuts. Some hot-boned cuts had low levels (Log 0–3 CFU/cm2) of coliforms, fecal coliforms, Clostridium perfringens, coagulase-positive Staphylococcus aureus and fecal streptococci. No Salmonella were recovered from any cuts. Temperature-decline data indicated that hot-boned cuts had longer (several hours) periods of rapid bacterial growth (above 21 C) than conventionally-treated cuts. The longer rapid growth period for hot-boned cuts may have contributed to higher microbial loads and subsequently to more growth of bacteria in cold storage. Slower chilling of hot-boned samples stemmed from vacuum-packaging and boxing soon after cutting. Temperature control of hot-boned meat during the first several hours of chilling is critical, particularly if hot cuts are vacuum-packaged and boxed before chilling. Some temperature decline guidelines, based on bacterial counts, are presented for hot-boned, vacuum-packaged boxed cuts. Most hot-boned cuts processed and stored under our experimental conditions were bacteriologically acceptable.

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Author notes

1Contribution No. 79-380 J, Department of Animal Sciences and Industry, Kansas Agricultural Experiment Station, Manhattan 66506.