CategoryPost-Harvest Pork Safety
Date Full Report Received12/12/2003
Date Abstract Report Received07/24/2006
InvestigationInstitution: Pennsylvania State University, University of Missouri-Columbia
Primary Investigator: Edward Mills
Funded ByNational Pork Board
Condensation in pork carcass coolers is a problem because it is often assumed that condensate contains pathogens and thus may contaminate products below. The current study was designed to gather some facts about the number and type of bacteria present in condensate and on the surfaces where condensate forms. Most of samples collected gave no detectable counts or had to few colonies for reliable counting. Nevertheless, 3-4% of samples were found to be positive for Salmonella or Listeria. The presence of these pathogens on the overhead surfaces and in the condensate from those surfaces represents a real concern. Regular sanitation procedures must be applied to rail and overhead structures to eliminate bacteria that might reside there. It was encouraging to note that bacterial numbers on rail and overhead surfaces did not increase during the slaughter operation. Thus, surfaces properly cleaned beforehand stay clean as carcasses are moved into the cooler. The current practice by USDA of zero tolerance for falling condensate should be modified to focus on proper sanitation procedures and bacterial monitoring to assure that surfaces and condensate are free of pathogens.