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Antimicrobial intervention strategies control contamination.

Major current food safety issues encompass the need to control traditional as well as emerging pathogenic microorganisms. These include microorganisms of increased virulence at low infectious doses or those resistant to antibiotics or food-related stresses. Additionally, there are constant concerns about the cross-contamination of other foods and water with enteric pathogens of animal origin.

The goals of many technologies employed to preserve the quality and microbiological safety of food products are to: prevent or minimize the access of microorganisms to food products; reduce initial contamination levels by the removal or inactivation of microorganisms which have gained access to products; inactivate microorganisms in products; or prevent or slow the growth of microorganisms.

Procedures that reduce the access of microorganisms to products for the most part include sanitation and hygienic processes or packaging technologies. Interventions that reduce initial levels of contamination include sanitization or decontamination technologies, such as washing and treating products with hot water, steam, acids or other chemicals.

Processes that inactivate microorganisms include thermal processing, ionizing radiation, high hydrostatic pressure and electric shock treatments. Major preservation technologies based on the inhibition of microbial growth include temperature control, decreased water activity, acidification, modified atmosphere packaging, fermentation or biopreservation, and the addition of antimicrobials. Besides the extreme modification of a single factor, it's possible to inhibit microbial growth with a combination of preservation technologies at individually sub-lethal levels that interact to yield a multiple hurdle effect.

Among technologies to consider are various decontamination and preservation methods, including animal carcass decontamination by physical or chemical means or using a combination of both. Also to consider: using multiple interventions in combination to bring about a desired level of microbial reduction while maintaining product quality, without stress adaptation and the cross-protection of pathogens.

For example, to reduce the prevalence of Salmonella on poultry carcasses during processing, intervention strategies should be implemented during the breeding, hatching, growout and transportation phases of poultry production as well. Salmonella may be found in the nest boxes of breeder chickens, cold egg storage rooms at the farm, on the hatchery truck, or in the hatchery environment. These bacteria may then be spread to fertilized hatching eggs on the shell or, in some cases, may penetrate the shell and reside just beneath the surface of the eggshell.

Further information. Ifigenia (Gina) Geornaras, Department of Animal Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523; phone: 970-491-7128; fax: 970-491-5326; email:
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Publication:Microbial Update International
Date:Jun 1, 2009
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