The effects of organic acid and temperature on the microbiological properties of pork



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Pork heads are a major concern to the pork industry because they receive high levels of contamination during the slaughter process and usually have large microbial populations. Therefore, the objective of the present study was to determine the effect of acetic acid (AA) and temperature in reducing the pathogen, Salmonella, as well as the aerobic plate counts (APCs) and total coliforms on pork cheek meat. In phase I, pork cheek meat (n = 10/treatment) was inoculated in a bath of Salmonella typhimurium (104/mL) for 30 sec and then treated with water (20 or 40°C) or 2% AA at 20 or 40°C. The cheeks then were evaluated for the presence of Salmonella, APCs, and total coliforms. As compared with the initial APCs of control cheeks, a reduction in log1oCFU/cm2 APC by more than 78.6% was found in all samples that were treated with 40oC acetic acid (P < 0.05). A significant reduction in APCs was caused by the 20°C AA compared to the control (P < 0.05). Additionally, the total coliforms for the acidtreated cheeks were lower for both AA treatments (P < 0.05). The incidence of Salmonella was not affected by any treatment. In phase II, cheeks (n = 1 0/treatment) were sprayed in a commercial pork slaughter facility carcass wash with 2% AA (25°C) and compared to control (non-treated) cheeks from the same day of production. The cheeks were evaluated for APCs, total coliforms and presence of Salmonella. A significant decrease in APCs and coliforms occurred for the acid-treated cheeks (P < 0.05). The incidence of Salmonella decreased by 67% for the acid-treated cheeks (P < 0.05). These data support the need for the approval of an acid head wash system to reduce the microflora on pork cheeks as well as other head meat. An acetic acid head wash, along with good manufacturing practices, is important in achieving the goal of extending shelf-life and improving the microbiological safety of pork head meat.



Swine -- Microbiology, Swine -- Processing, Acetic acid -- Physiological effect, Salmonella typhimurium