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The appendix describes common characteristics of the meat and poultry bacterial pathogens referenced in this guide. Each table presents the disease, symptoms, and onset of the disease caused by the particular bacterium; the source of the bacterium transmission to humans; and common characteristics of the bacterium. Further discussions on biological hazards can be found in: Scott, V. N., 1999. Chapter 5: Biological Hazards and Controls, in HACCP, A Systematic Approach to Food Safety, third edition, K. E. Stevenson and D. T. Bernard (eds.), The National Food Processors Association, Washington, DC, in press - from which these tables were reproduced.

Campylobacter

Disease, Symptoms and Onset

Causes diarrhea 2-7 days after eating contaminated food. May cause nerve damage 1-6 weeks after infection.

Main Disease Factor

Invasion of the cells lining the intestine.

Source

Faecal contamination of raw poultry and meat.

Transmission

Cross contamination from raw meat or poultry drippings or consumption of undercooked food.

Characteristics

Sensitive to heat and drying.
Grows in reduced oxygen environments.
Grows at human body temperature.
Does not grow in acid food.
Survives but does not grow during refrigeration and freezing.

 

Clostridium botulinum

Disease, Symptoms and Onset

Botulism is the name of the disease caused by C. botulinum toxin. A severe disease resulting from ingestion of toxin in food. Blurred or double vision, dry mouth, difficulty swallowing, paralysis of respiratory muscles. Vomiting and diaorrhea may be present. Symptoms develop 12-36 hours after eating contaminated food (sometimes days). Unless adequately treated there is a high death rate. Recovery may be slow (months, rarely years).

Main Disease Factor

Production of toxin.

Source

Soil and the intestinal tract of animals.

Transmission

Consumption of toxin that has been formed in food by Clostridium botulinum. Heat stable forms of the bacteria (spores) may be present in food and in the absence of air can produce toxin.

Characteristics

Spores are extremely heat resistant. Toxin is destroyed by high heat (100°C for 5 min).
Bacteria grow best without oxygen.
Bacteria can grow in most low-acid foods under low oxygen conditions.
Inclusion of sodium nitrite in processed foods slows the occurrence of toxin production.
High acid (pH 4.6) prevents the occurrence of toxin production.

 

Clostridium perfringens 

Disease, Symptoms and Onset

Causes diarrhea and abdominal pain 6-24 hours after eating contaminated food.

Main Disease Factor

Production of toxins.

Source

Soil. Intestinal tract of healthy persons and animals.

Transmission

Usually inadequately heated or reheated meats, pot pies, stews, or gravies. Inadequate cooling of cooked food allows bacteria to multiply.

Characteristics

Has a heat resistant form known as a spore.
Spores survive normal cooking procedures, including boiling.
Grows well without oxygen.
Bacteria grow best at 43-49°C.
Slow cooling and non-refrigerated storage of cooked meat and poultry permit growth of bacteria to high numbers. Can grow in foods placed on steam tables if food is not maintained at or above 54°C.

 

Escherichia coli O157:H7

Disease, Symptoms and Onset

Causes diarrhea (may be bloody) and occasionally fever. Incubation period is generally 2-3 days after ingestion of food (range 1-5 days). May result in kidney failure and death, especially in children.

Main Disease Factor

Production of a potent toxin in the intestinal tract of infected people.

Source

Faecal contamination of beef.

Transmission

Consumption of raw or undercooked hamburger, contaminated produce, such as sprouts, unpasteurized milk, and juices.

Characteristics

Killed by mild heat.
Grows with or without air. Optimum temperature for growth is human body temperature.
Grows in moist, low-acid foods.

 

Listeria monocytogenes

Disease, Symptoms and Onset

Causes meningitis (sudden fever, intense headache, nausea, vomiting, delirium and coma). This is a particular problem in the elderly, infants, and pregnant women. One third of those who are hospitalized will die. In a healthy person, infection with Listeria monocytogenes may cause symptoms such as a flu-like illness and diarrhea.

Main Disease Factor

Bacterial invasion of the blood stream.

Source

Post-heat-processing contamination from the plant environment including plant personnel, equipment, floors, walls, drains, condensation from coolers, etc.

Transmission

Consumption of contaminated processed ready-to-eat meats. Also vegetables, unpasteurized dairy products.

Characteristics

Killed by pasteurization temperatures.
Grows with or without air – however, prefers reduced oxygen conditions.
Able to grow at refrigeration temperatures and high salt concentration.
Acid conditions will slow growth but may allow survival.
Extremely hardy in comparison to most bacteria. Withstands repeated freezing and thawing. Survives for prolonged periods in dry conditions.

 

Salmonella  sp

Disease, Symptoms and Onset

Causes acute diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and fever. Occasionally, may cause blood stream infections and death. Symptoms occur 6 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food.

Main Disease Factor

Invasion of the lining of the intestine.

Source

Fecal contamination of meat and poultry.

Transmission

Primarily from consumption of raw or undercooked eggs, milk, meat and poultry.

Characteristics

Killed by mild heat.
Grows with or without air. Grows best at human body temperature. Grows very poorly at refrigeration temperatures and does not grow above 54°C
Does not grow well or at all in acidic foods.
Survives well in frozen or dry foods. Bacteria in dry foods are more resistant to heat.

 

Staphylococcus aureus

Disease, Symptoms and Onset

Causes vomiting, nausea, abdominal cramps, and diaorrhea 1-6 hours after eating food contaminated with toxin produced by this organism.

Main Disease Factor

Production of a heat resistant toxin in food.

Source

May be present on raw meat and poultry but contamination of food is primarily from humans.

Transmission

Bacteria multiply in food products to high levels and produce a heat-stable toxin.

Characteristics

Bacteria killed by mild heat. Toxins are very heat stable, and will withstand thermal processing for prolonged periods.
Bacteria grow with or without air at body temperatures.
Toxin not usually produced in acid food.
Bacteria resistant to high salt (up to 15%).