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Staphylococcus aureus and Beef Carcasses Control

05 September 2008

AUSTRALIA - National baseline studies of the microbiology of Australian meat have indicated moderate levels of Staphylococcus aureus on carcass and boneless meats.

A recent study of retail meat showed prevalence and concentration of the organism had increased from those at the abattoir and boning (fabrication) room levels.

An investigation of handling processes in beef and sheep abattoirs and boning rooms established that there has been a radical increase in the use of gloves by operators.

Introduced primarily for occupational health and safety reasons, the wearing of a disposable glove beneath a cut-proof and/or a chain mail glove has effectively eliminated S. aureus from carcasses at some abattoirs.

At other plants, where glove use is not universal, S. aureus prevalence and concentration has been reduced compared with levels established by the last national baseline study (2004). However, investigations at one plant showed that even a small number of operators without gloves can lead to S. aureus being isolated from 80% of carcasses at a mean log10 concentration of 1 cfu/cm2.

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