Triclosan is a nonionic, broad-spectrum, antimicrobial agent that has been incorporated into a variety of personal hygiene products, including hand soaps, deodorants, shower gels, mouthwashes, and toothpastes. In this study, plastic containing 1,500 ppm of triclosan was evaluated in plate overlay assays and meat experiments as a means of reducing populations of bacteria. Plate overlay assays indicated that the triclosan-incorporated plastic (TIP) inhibited the following organisms: Brochothrix thermosphacta ATCC 11509, Salmonella Typhimurium ATCC 14028, Staphylococcus aureus ATCC 12598, Bacillus subtilis ATCC 6051, Shigella flexneri ATCC 12022, Escherichia coli ATCC 25922, and several strains of E. coli O157:H7. In meat experiment 1, irradiated, lean beef surfaces inoculated with B. thermosphacta, Salmonella Typhimurium, E. coli O157:H7, or B. subtilis were covered with TIP, vacuum packaged, and stored for 24 h at 4°C. Of the organisms tested, only populations of B. thermosphacta were slightly reduced. In meat experiment 2, prerigor beef surfaces were inoculated with E. coli O157: H7, Salmonella Typhimurium, or B. thermosphacta incubated at 4°C for 24 h, wrapped in TIP or control plastic, vacuum packaged, and stored at 4°C for up to 14 days. There was a slight reduction in the population of the organisms after initial application with TIP. However, bacterial populations following long-term, refrigerated (4°C), vacuum-packaged storage up to 14 days were not statistically (P≤ 0.05) or numerically different than controls. In meat experiment 3, even TIP-wrapped, vacuum-packaged beef samples that were temperature abused at 12°C did not exhibit significant (P ≤ 0.05) or sustainable reductions after 14 days of 4°C storage. Another study indicated that populations of E. coli O157:H7 or B. thermosphacta added directly to TIP were not affected after 2 h of refrigerated storage or that the antimicrobial activity could be extracted from the plastic. Additional experiments suggest that presence of fatty acids or adipose may diminish the antimicrobial activity of TIP on meat surfaces. This study demonstrates that while antimicrobial activity is detected against bacterial cultures in antimicrobial plate assays, plastic containing 1,500 ppm of triclosan does not effectively reduce bacterial populations on refrigerated, vacuum-packaged meat surfaces.

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