Ham sandwiches inoculated with a mixture of five enteropathogenic bacteria, Bacillus cereus, Clostridium perfringens. Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhimurium and Staphylococcus aureus, were held at 30, 21 and 4 C for up to 24 h. Food poisoning potential was judged by the growth and survival of the inoculated pathogens. Major differences were observed between new and old (30 days of storage at 4 C) ham samples. On new ham, all enteropathogens were able to grow except C. perfringens, whereas on old ham, with high microbial competition. the pathogens survived but did not grow. Severe storage temperature abuse was necessary to develop a food poisoning potential in new ham samples. The safety of old ham was attributed to the competitive microflora that grew in the ham during storage at 4 C for 30 days. Infective pathogens, E. coli and S. typhimurium, either survived or increased in numbers under all test conditions. The safety of vacuum packaged sliced ham for use in sandwiches, in its present market form, was indicated by these studies.
1Supported by research funds from Canada Health and Welfare, Research Programs Branch.
2Honorary Professor, Department of Microbiology.