The objective of this study was to establish the necessary protocols and assess the efficacy of cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC) as an antimicrobial intervention on beef cattle hides. Experiments using CPC were conducted to determine (i) the methods of neutralization needed to obtain valid efficacy measurements, (ii) the effect of concentration and dwell time after treatment, (iii) the effect of CPC on hide and carcass microbial populations when cattle were treated at a feedlot and then transported to a processing facility for harvest, and (iv) the effectiveness of spray pressure and two-spray combinations of CPC and water to reduce hide microbial populations. Residual CPC in hide sponge samples prevented bacterial growth. Dey-Engley neutralization media at 7.8% and a centrifugation step were necessary to overcome this problem. All dwell times, ranging from 30 s to 4 h, after 1% CPC application to cattle hides resulted in aerobic plate counts and Enterobacteriaceae counts 1.5 log CFU/100 cm2 lower than controls. The most effective dose of CPC was 1%, which reduced aerobic plate counts and Enterobacteriaceae counts 2 and 1 log CFU/100 cm2, respectively. Low-pressure application of 1% CPC at the feedlot, transport to the processing facility, and harvest within 5 h of application resulted in no effect on Escherichia coli O157 prevalence on hides or preevisceration carcasses. Two high-pressure CPC washes lowered aerobic plate counts and Enterobacteriaceae counts by 4 log CFU/100 cm2, and two medium-pressure CPC washes were only slightly less effective. These results indicate that under the proper conditions, CPC may still be effective for reducing microbial populations on cattle hides. Further study is warranted to determine if this effect will result in reduction of hide-to-carcass contamination during processing.

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Author notes

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Present address: Room 119, Veterinary Diagnostic Center, East Campus, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE 68583-0907, USA.