Ross Industries, Inc. and the Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center at Oklahoma State Univ. (FAPC) are collaborating on an antimicrobial spray treatment for blade tenderised meat.
Mechanically tenderised meat received renewed attention in 2012 after several confirmed illnesses caused by E. coli
O157:H7 were linked to beef steak products sold in Canada.
Public health officials said it was unclear if the steaks were contaminated before or after arriving at retail because the products were mechanically tenderised. Health officials announced an investigation into the practice and whether consumers should be advised to cook their steaks longer.
In the US, a coalition of consumer and public health groups wrote a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack urging him to approve a proposal to label mechanically tenderised beef products on concerns such products present a "higher risk" of foodborne pathogen contamination.
So, the FAPC teamed up with Ross Industries, a major manufacturer of meat tenderisers, food packaging equipment and food processing systems, to research the use of antimicrobial sprays to treat mechanically tenderized meat.
The collaboration produced a machine in which meat gets loaded in the front end of the machine and is pulled through an antimicrobial spray system. The meat continues on the blades used for tenderization.
Researchers used 14 different antimicrobials from 10 different suppliers, all approved for use on meat by the FDA and USDA. The researchers examined the antimicrobials for effectiveness against E. coli
0157:H7 on inoculated lean beef discs passing through the Ross spray system.
The research team also studied the effectiveness of antimicrobials on beef sub-primals in combination with blade tenderization. Antimicrobials showing the best reduction in the lean beef discs demonstrated the least translocation during beef tenderization.
With the outcome of the results, Ross Industries installed spray systems on the front end of its commercial blade tenderisers.
Source: Ross Industries, Inc.