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Total Bacterial Count and Presence of Escherichia coli in Raw Ground Beef Samples Obtained From Three Major Supermarkets on the Island of Bonaire

John Melling; Christopher Smith; Harish C. Gugnani

Bacteria are everywhere. Some of them are good, some are indifferent and some are really bad. Foods can harvest all kinds of bacteria, but bacterial growth depends on plenty of factors. Grounded meat, for example, is more perishable than whole muscle cuts, because  more of the meat surface is exposed to the harmful bacteria and the grinding process mixes them throughout the product.

Since  our senses (smell, taste, touch, vision and the others)  can neither detect bacteria nor distinguish between good, bad and indifferent, more sophisticated methods have to be used to evaluate the danger of bacteria in foods. Both the presence of specific bacteria and total bacterial counts  help to evaluate the general hygiene, quality and the safety of foods. In meat products commonly tested are APC (Aerobic Plate Counts), nasty E. coli 0157:H7 and its “Big Six” Shiga toxin-producing cousins that are common causes of outbreaks.

To avoid false positive and false negative results, it is important to follow scientific standards and procedures designed for each step – from the sample collection to the interpretation and the presentation of the results. And SJSM students know that. Now, let’s see how they evaluated the hygiene, food safety and the needs for the improvements of safe meat purchase and handling on Bonaire.

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bacteria and beef med school research
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