This study evaluated the heat and pressure resistance of 112 strains of Escherichia coli, including 102 strains of verotoxigenic E. coli (VTEC) representing 23 serotypes and four phylogenetic groups. In an initial screening, the heat and pressure resistance of 100 strains, including 94 VTEC strains, were tested in phosphate-buffered saline (PBS). Treatment at 60°C for 5 min reduced cell counts by 2.0 to 5.5 log CFU/ml; treatment at 600 MPa for 3 min at 25°C reduced the cell counts by 1.1 to 5.5 log CFU/ml. Heat or pressure resistance did not correlate to the phylogenetic group or the serotype. A smaller group of E. coli strains was evaluated for heat and pressure resistance in Luria-Bertani (LB) broth. Generally, the levels of heat resistance of E. coli strains in LB and PBS were similar; however, the levels of pressure resistance observed for treatments in LB broth or PBS were variable. The cell counts of pressure-resistant strains of VTEC were reduced by less than 1.5 log CFU/ml after treatment at 600 MPa for 3 min. E. coli strains were also treated with 600 MPa for 3 min in ground beef or inoculated into beef patties and grilled to 63 or 71°C. The cell counts of the VTEC E. coli O26:H11 strain 05-6544 were reduced by 2 log CFU/g by pressure treatment in ground beef. The cell counts of the heat-resistant E. coli strain AW1.7 were reduced by 1.4 and 3.4 log CFU/g in beef patties grilled to internal temperatures of 63 and 71°C, respectively. The cell counts of E. coli 05-6544 were reduced by less than 3 and 6 log CFU/g in beef patties grilled to internal temperatures of 63 and 71°C, respectively. To study whether the composition of the beef patties influenced heat resistance, E. coli strains AW1.7, AW1.7ΔpHR1, MG1655, and LMM1030 were mixed into beef patties containing 15 or 35% fat and 0 or 2% NaCl, and the patties were grilled to an internal temperature of 63°C. The highest heat resistance of E. coli was observed in patties containing 15% fat and 2% NaCl.

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