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Evaluating the Safety of Sous-Vide Cooking for Beef Products Inoculated with Single Strains of Salmonella enterica and Escherichia coli O157.

Sous-videcooking is a growing trend among retailers and consumers. Foodborne pathogens may survive the cooking if non-validated parameters are used or if pathogens have enhanced thermalresistance. Pathogen inactivation from sous-vide cooking was determined when introduced directly to beef products or via contaminated spices, and with or without a finishing step. Beef products (ground beef, tenderized and non-tenderized steaks) were inoculated with pathogens (Salmonella Montevideo and Escherichia coli O157:NM) three ways: 1) directly onto the meat 2) ground black pepper incorporated into the recipe 3) ground pepper equilibrated at 30% RH (4 d) prior to incorporation. Beef samples were vacuum-packaged and submerged in a 62.5°C water bath for 120 min. Samples were sampled at 5, 10, 20, and 120 min (recommended from a partner quality study), and a duplicate was grilled to a specific internal temperature (74°C for ground beef, 57°C for steaks) and sampled. Sous-vide cooking reduced pathogen populations by >5 log CFU/g after most treatment times, but less than grilled counterparts (ca. 1-2 log CFU/g difference; p<0.05).There were no statistically significant differences between inoculation methods, but the tenderization of steaks resulted in significantly lower reductions of pathogens from sous-vide cooking (p<0.05). Thisresearch challenged sous-vide cooking parameters (120 min, 62.5°C). It showed sous-vide alone lowered pathogens by >4 log CFU/g after most 20-min treatments, but 120-min sous-vide treatments or grilling would be needed for >5-log reductions.Contaminated pepper led to less consistent reductions during the cooking process, yet 2-hour sous-vide still achieved a 5-log reduction. Sous-vide cooking instructions must be validated as more products and recipes are marketed.

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