A total of 124 delicatessen meat products were analysed for microbiological quality shortly after purchase and following storage at 22 C for 24 h. Sixty-seven of these products were portion packages and 57 were cuts from bulk products. Coliforms, coagulase-positive staphylococci and Clostridium perfringens contamination was low. Salmonella was not detected in any of the samples. Initially, 34.3% of the portion-packed and 24.5% of bulk cuts contained more than 107 total aerobic plate count per g and, following storage this proportion increased to 62.7% and 57.9%, respectively. Eight samples (11.9%) of portion-packed and seven samples (12.3%) of bulk cuts contained more than 107 psychrotrophs per g initially. After storage, 35% of both types of products yielded >107 psychrotrophs per g. Significant levels of fecal streptococci and yeasts were also isolated from many of these products, indicating need for improvement in manufacturing procedures and retail storage conditions. However, the results of this investigation indicated that chances of a public health hazard from delicatessen meat products would be low.

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Author notes

1Food Laboratory, O. S. Longman Laboratory Building, 6909 - 116th Street, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6H 4P2.