Two studies were undertaken to determine the microbiological quality of beef carcass meat and frozen boneless bulk packed beef produced in Australia. Samples were collected from 1,063 beef carcasses and from 929 cartons of frozen boneless bulk packed beef over a period of approximately 12 months. Samples were collected from works processing beef carcasses for the Australian domestic market and from works targeting export markets. On carcasses processed for export markets, where bacterial counts were obtained, the log10 mean of the APC (aerobic plate count) was 3.13 CFU/cm2; the geometric mean of the coliform count was 19 MPN/cm2; and the geometric mean of Escherichia coli was 13 MPN/cm2. A small percentage (0.59%) of export samples were found positive for Listeria monocytogenes, 0.16% were positive for Campylobacter jejuni/coli, 0.22% were positive for Salmonella spp., and 29% were positive for coagulase-positive Staphylococcus spp. Bacterial numbers were lower on carcasses processed for export markets and higher on carcasses chilled for more than 24 h. Escherichia coli O157 was recovered from 4 of 893 export carcasses tested (0.45%). Of the export frozen boneless bulk packed beef samples that tested positive, the log10 mean of the APC was 2.5 CFU/g, the geometric mean of the coliform count was 15 MPN/g, and the geometric mean number of E. coli was 15 MPN/g. Three of 787 export frozen samples (0.38%) tested positive for Salmonella spp. E. coli O157 was not isolated from any of the 685 export frozen samples tested for this bacteria. Export samples on average had lower APCs than domestic samples. Results from both surveys are compared with data from similar studies in other countries.

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