Organic acids have been shown to be effective in reducing the presence of pathogenic bacteria on hot beef carcass surfaces; however, application for decontaminating chilled carcasses has not been fully evaluated. In this study, a postchill, 30-s lactic acid spray (500 ml of 4% l-lactic acid, 55°C) was applied onto outside rounds that had been contaminated with Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Salmonella Typhimurium, subsequent to prechill hot carcass treatments consisting of water wash alone or water wash followed by a 15-s lactic acid spray (250 ml of 2% l-lactic acid, 55°C). The prechill treatments reduced both pathogens by 3.3 to 3.4 log cycles (water wash alone) to 5.2 log cycles (water wash and lactic acid). In all cases, the postchill acid treatment produced an additional reduction in E. coli O157:H7 of 2.0 to 2.4 log cycles and of 1.6 to 1.9 log cycles for Salmonella Typhimurium. The counts of both pathogens remained significantly lower in ground beef produced from the outside rounds that received prechill and postchill acid spray than from those that received a postchill spray only. These data indicate that organic acid sprays may be successfully applied for pathogen reduction in beef carcass processing after the cooler, especially when combined with prechill treatments.
†Technical article from the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station.