- Citation:
- Youssef, M. K., X. Yang, and C. O. Gill, "The relationship between numbers of bacteria on surfaces and in deep tissues of mechanically tenderized beef", Food Control, vol. 46, pp. 502-507, 2014.

The objective of the study was to identify factors affecting the fractions of the bacteria naturally present on surfaces of beef cuts that are carried into deep tissues when the meat is mechanical tenderized by piercing with banks of thin blades. The surfaces and ten strips of meat from the deep tissues of beef primal cuts tenderized first and last on each of five days at a retail store meat fabrication facility were sampled for enumeration of total aerobic counts. Each strip was excised from the whole thickness of a cut after surfaces were sterilized. The mean log numbers of total aerobes recovered from the surfaces of cuts tenderized first or last each day were 2.18 and 1.57 log cfu cm−2, respectively. The mean log numbers recovered per strip from individual cuts tenderized first or last each day ranged from 0.30 to 1.45 and from 0.03 to 1.04 log cfu, respectively. These findings indicate that bacteria from the tenderizing equipment augmented the numbers of aerobes on the surfaces of cuts tenderized first each day, with some of the additional aerobes being carried into deep tissues. Subsequently, pieces of cuts stored in air at 2 °C were tenderized at a laboratory using commercial equipment. Each cut was divided into three pieces with one piece being not treated, one being sprayed with water and one being sprayed with 5% lactic acid. The mean log numbers of total aerobes recovered from the surfaces of not treated pieces of cut stored for 0, 2, 4, 6, 10 or 14 days were 0.6, 0.8, 2.6, 4.2, 8.5 and 8.9 log cfu cm−2, respectively. No aerobes were recovered from the deep tissues of any of the pieces of cuts tenderized on day 0. Mean log numbers recovered from the deep tissues of not treated tenderized pieces of cuts stored for 2, 4, 6, 10 or 14 days were 0.3, 0.3, 2.2, 7.8 and 8.1 log cfu per strip, respectively. Spraying with 5% lactic acid reduced the mean log numbers of aerobes on pieces of cuts stored for 2, 4, or 6 days by 1, 2 or 2 log units, respectively, but did not reduce the numbers on pieces of cuts stored for 10 or 14 days. Mean log numbers recovered from the deep tissues of tenderized pieces of cuts sprayed with 5% lactic acid were not significantly different (P > 0.05) from the mean log numbers recovered from the corresponding, tenderized not treated pieces of cuts. These findings showed that the fraction of the total aerobes on cut surfaces that are carried into deep tissues during mechanical tenderizing can vary with the stage of growth of the spoilage flora; and that reduction of numbers of aerobes on the surface by treatment with lactic acid before tenderizing does not necessarily reduce the numbers carried into deep tissues during tenderizing.