Effect of low-dose x-ray and e-beam irradiation on Escherichia coli O157:H7, non-O157 (VTEC) Escherichia coli and Salmonella viability on meat surfaces and sensory quality of meat
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Radiation sensitivity of E. coli O157:H7, non-O157 VTEC and Salmonella to low-dose ionizing irradiation was evaluated. Buffer-suspended E. coli O157 and non-O157 VTEC strains showed similar resistance to 300 Gy X-ray treatments, while Salmonella strains were more resistant. A dose of 1 kGy E-beam radiation reduced two groups of non-O157 E. coli mixtures and one E. coli O157:H7 group inoculated in meat by at least 4 log CFU/g. Salmonella showed only a <2 log CFU/g reduction. Sensory attributes of cooked ground beef patties were not affected (p >0.05) by irradiation. However, irradiated raw carcass muscles were more brown (p < 0.05) but displayed less intense off-aroma (p < 0.05) compared to the control during storage. Therefore, a 1 kGy treatment has the potential to improve microbiological safety with minimal effects on sensory properties of beef; it would be a suitable method for treating carcass trim before preparing ground beef.