The hides of cattle are the primary source of pathogens such as Escherichia coli O157:H7 that contaminate preevisceration carcasses during commercial beef processing. A number of interventions that reduce hide contamination and subsequent carcass contamination are currently being developed. The objective of this study was to determine the efficacy of ozonated and electrolyzed oxidizing (EO) waters to decontaminate beef hides and to compare these treatments with similar washing in water without the active antimicrobial compounds. Cattle hides draped over barrels were used as the model system. Ozonated water (2 ppm) was applied at 4,800 kPa (700 lb in2) and 15°C for 10 s. Alkaline EO water and acidic EO water were sequentially applied at 60°C for 10 s at 4,800 and 1,700 kPa (250 lb in2), respectively. Treatment using ozonated water reduced hide aerobic plate counts by 2.1 log CFU/100 cm2 and reduced Enterobacteriaceae counts by 3.4 log CFU/100 cm2. EO water treatment reduced aerobic plate counts by 3.5 log CFU/100 cm2 and reduced Enterobacteriaceae counts by 4.3 log CFU/100 cm2. Water controls that matched the wash conditions of the ozonated and EO treatments reduced aerobic plate counts by only 0.5 and 1.0 log CFU/100 cm2, respectively, and each reduced Enterobacteriaceae counts by 0.9 log CFU/100 cm2. The prevalence of E. coli O157 on hides was reduced from 89 to 31% following treatment with ozonated water and from 82 to 35% following EO water treatment. Control wash treatments had no significant effect on the prevalence of E. coli O157:H7. These results demonstrate that ozonated and EO waters can be used to decontaminate hides during processing and may be viable treatments for significantly reducing pathogen loads on beef hides, thereby reducing pathogens on beef carcasses.
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