Survival or growth of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in a model system of fresh meat decontamination runoff waste fluids and its resistance to subsequent lactic acid stress.Appl Environ Microbiol. 2005 Oct; 71(10):6228-34.AE
A potential may exist for survival of and resistance development by Escherichia coli O157:H7 in environmental niches of meat plants applying carcass decontamination interventions. This study evaluated (i) survival or growth of acid-adapted and nonadapted E. coli O157:H7 strain ATCC 43895 in acetic acid (pH 3.6 +/- 0.1) or in water (pH 7.2 +/- 0.2) fresh beef decontamination runoff fluids (washings) stored at 4, 10, 15, or 25 degrees C and (ii) resistance of cells recovered from the washings after 2 or 7 days of storage to a subsequent lactic acid (pH 3.5) stress. Corresponding cultures in sterile saline or in heat-sterilized water washings were used as controls. In acetic acid washings, acid-adapted cultures survived better than nonadapted cultures, with survival being greatest at 4 degrees C and lowest at 25 degrees C. The pathogen survived without growth in water washings at 4 and 10 degrees C, while it grew by 0.8 to 2.7 log cycles at 15 and 25 degrees C, and more in the absence of natural flora. E. coli O157:H7 cells habituated without growth in water washings at 4 or 10 degrees C were the most sensitive to pH 3.5, while cells grown in water washings at 15 or 25 degrees C were relatively the most resistant, irrespective of previous acid adaptation. Resistance to pH 3.5 of E. coli O157:H7 cells habituated in acetic acid washings for 7 days increased in the order 15 degrees C > 10 degrees C > 4 degrees C, while at 25 degrees C cells died off. These results indicate that growth inhibition by storage at low temperatures may be more important than competition by natural flora in inducing acid sensitization of E. coli O157:H7 in fresh meat environments. At ambient temperatures in meat plants, E. coli O157:H7 may grow to restore acid resistance, unless acid interventions are applied to inhibit growth and minimize survival of the pathogen. Acid-habituated E. coli O157:H7 at 10 to 15 degrees C may maintain a higher acid resistance than when acid habituated at 4 degrees C. These responses should be evaluated with fresh meat and may be useful for the optimization of decontamination programs and postdecontamination conditions of meat handling.