Food Science and Technology Department


Date of this Version



Published in APPLIED MICROBIOLOGY, Aug. 1975, p. 242-250. Copyright © 1975 American Society for Microbiology. Used by permission.


Ground beef contains numerous microorganisms of various types. The commonly recognized bacteria are associated with current problems of spoilage. Irradiation, however, contributes a new factor through selective destruction of the microflora. The residual microorganisms surviving a nonsterilizing dose are predominantly gram-negative coccobacilli. Various classifications have been given, e.g., Moraxella, Acinetobacter, Achromobacter, etc. For a more detailed study of these radiation-resistant bacteria occurring in ground beef, an enrichment procedure was used for isolation. By means of morphological and biochemical tests, most of the isolates were found to be Moraxella, based on current classifications. The range of growth temperatures was from 2 to 50 C. These bacteria were relatively heat sensitive, e.g., D10 of 5.4 min at 70 C or less. The radiation resistance ranged from Dr0 values of 273 to 2,039 krad. Thus, some were more resistant than any presently recognized spores. A reference culture of Moraxella osloensis was irradiated under conditions comparable to the enrichment procedure used with the ground beef. The only apparent changes were in morphology and penicillin sensitivity. However, after a few subcultures these bacteria reverted to the characteristics of the parent strain. Thus, it is apparent that these isolates are a part of the normal flora of ground beef and not aberrant forms arising from the irradiation procedure. The significance, if any, of these bacteria is not presently recognized.

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