From January through December 2003, swab samples from 1,650 pork carcasses were collected from 39 slaughter plants in Taiwan. These samples were analyzed for the prevalence of indicator microorganisms and specific pathogens. Viable aerobic bacteria, total coliforms, and Escherichia coli were recovered from 100, 95.3, and 87.5% of these carcasses, respectively. Of those carcasses that harbored bacteria, the mean aerobic plate, total coliform, and Escherichia coli counts were 4.0, 0.6, and 0.1 log CFU/cm2, respectively. Staphylococcus aureus, Clostridium perfringens, Campylobacter jejuni, Campylobacter coli, Listeria monocytogenes, and Salmonella were recovered from 4.8, 0.3, 13.8, 0.7, and 1.7 of 1,038 carcasses, respectively. E. coli O157:H7 was not detected from any carcass. When positive for a specific pathogen, the mean carcass concentration was 0.57 log CFU/cm2 for S. aureus, 0.66 most probable number (MPN)/cm2 for C. jejuni and C. coli, and 0.18 MPN/cm2 for Salmonella. The findings of this study will help provide a reference for establishing hygienic standards and a criterion for evaluating the effects of slaughtering operations in Taiwan.

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