Background: Sausage can become contaminated via the environment, handlers, and equipment particularly slicing machines and cutting utensils during processing. We aimed to study the effect of slicing machines on microbiological quality of sausages at retail points in Shiraz, southern Iran.
Methods: 120 samples of sausage from different retail points were collected and analyzed for different microbiological indicators. The total viable microorganisms were enumerated using plate count agar (PCA). For coliforms and coagulase positive coagulase Staphylococci, violet red bile lactose agar (VRBL) and Baird- Parker agar were used, respectively. Enumeration of molds and yeasts was carried out using yeast extract chloramphenicol agar. For isolation of salmonella and E.coli national standard numbers 1810 and 2946 were used, respectively.
Results: The number of samples containing the total viable microorganism, coliform, positive coagulase Staphylococcus, yeast, and mold increased by about 140%, 151%, 123%, and 40%, respectively, during slicing but salmonella and E.coli were not detected in any of the samples. Moreover, differences in total viable microorganisms, coliform, and positive coagulase Staphylococcus counts were not significant in quadratic areas of Shiraz, whereas significant differences were detected in the counts of yeast and mold and the counts were higher in east Shiraz.
Conclusion: Generally, a relatively high microbial load of sausage samples indicated poor hygienic status of slicing machines, insufficient hand washing, improper handling and cleaning of equipment. Prevention of cross contamination and careful handling of the products and effective cleaning and sanitation programs play an important role in providing safety and quality of ready-to-eat meat products.