Effects of Lactic Acid and Commercial Chilling Processes on Survival of Salmonella spp., Yersinia enterocolitica, and Campylobacter coli in Pork Variety Meats



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Current industry chilling practices with and without the application of 2 percent L-lactic acid were compared for their effectiveness at reducing levels of Salmonella, Yersinia enterocolitica, Campylobacter coli, and common indicator organisms used in industry (aerobic plate count APC, Escherichia coli, and coliforms) on pork variety meats. Pork livers, hearts, intestines, and stomachs were either inoculated individually with 1 of the 3 pathogens or not inoculated and subjected to 1 of 5 treatments: 1 (water wash + lactic acid spray + freeze), 2 (freeze), 3 (water wash + lactic acid spray + chill + freeze), 4 (chill + freeze), and 5 (water wash + freeze). Samples were analyzed between treatment steps and after 2 months, 4 months, and 6 months of frozen storage. Results of effects of the steps within treatments showed that reductions in levels of pathogens after the water wash and lactic acid spray were significantly different (P<0.05) across variety meats. Treatment of variety meats with water wash and lactic acid before chilling resulted in >/= 0.5 log CFU/sample (P<0.05) reductions when compared to chilling alone. Regardless of treatments, reductions in levels of Salmonella and Y. enterocolitica of 0.6-1.3 log CFU/sample were observed after freezing (0 degrees C) overnight. Freezing reduced C. coli by >/= 2.2 log CFU/sample regardless of previous treatment. Throughout 6 months of frozen storage, reductions were observed in levels of all microorganisms equal to or greater than 1.3 log CFU/sample. The greatest reductions were observed on samples treated with lactic acid (Treatments 1 and 3) (1.3-5.0 log CFU/sample) while the smallest reductions were reported for samples without any spray treatment (Treatments 2 and 4) (0.7-4.5 log CFU/sample). Large reductions were observed in levels of C. coli (2.9-5.0 log CFU/sample) for all treatments. The results of this study suggest that, while the application of a water wash followed by freezing reduced levels of pathogens by approximately 1 log CFU/sample, the application of lactic acid before chilling and freezing variety meats results in significantly larger (P<0.05) reductions in microorganisms. Results also show that aerobic plate counts, E. coli, and coliforms follow similar trends to the pathogens.