August, 2005
Journal of Food Protection: Volume 68, Number 8
Page 1581-1586
Neelam Narang,a Mark L. Tamplin,a and William C. Cray, Jr.b
aEastern Regional Research Center, Microbial Food Safety Research Unit, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 600 East Mermaid Lane, Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania 19038
bFood Safety and Inspection Service, Eastern Laboratory, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 950 College Station Road, Athens, Georgia 30605, USA
In eight separate trials, four groups of raw ground beef samples were inoculated with 0.04 to 0.3 CFU/g of Salmonella Typhimurium (DT 104). Each group consisted of four 25-g samples (three inoculated and one uninoculated). After inoculation, these samples were shipped by overnight courier in shipping containers with ice packs from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Eastern Regional Research Center, in Wyndmoor, Pa., to the U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), Eastern Laboratory, in Athens, Ga. A total of 128 samples (32 in each of four groups) were shipped. A temperature data logger was placed inside each shipping container to record the temperature during shipping and storage. The first group of ground beef samples was analyzed within approximately 1 h of arrival. The second group of samples was left in the original containers, with a gel ice pack, for 24 h before processing. The third and fourth groups of samples were removed from the original shipping containers and stored at room temperature (21 ± 2 degrees C) for 6 h and then in a refrigerator at 4 ± 2 degrees C for 24 and 48 h, respectively, before analysis. The samples were analyzed for the presence of Salmonella according to the USDA/FSIS Microbiological Laboratory Guidebook, chapter 4.02. There was no significant difference in the presence and levels of Salmonella in ground beef among the four test groups. These data show that it is acceptable to process the late-arriving ground beef samples for the detection of Salmonella if they are kept in a refrigerator (4 ± 2 degrees C) for 24 to 48 h or when the shipments arrive late (24 h in the container with ice pack).