Potential Pathogenic Microbes On The Beef Biology Essay

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Living things acquire the nutrients needed for growth, maintenance and productive activities from the food they eat. The food for such a purpose should be a kind which is balanced and the basis of that balanced food is one that is in the right proportion for growth, development and maintenance as well as production. There should be different kinds of food stuff and this can satisfy the various nutrients required. A large percentage of the world's under nutrition may be due to the high consumption of one staple food (FAO, 1992). This situation could be remedied if there is a careful study in the collection of various food stuff that complements each other when the nutrients they supply are being mentioned. Protein is one of the nutrients needed and this could be gotten from plant or animal source. Some plants like the legumes are very rich in protein but they may lack some of the essential amino acids. Many diets could be considerably improved if there is the inclusion of small quantities of food animal source. Jensen (1981) found that should as little as 25g of meat will give about 45% protein and half the vitamin B12 needed by a child daily. Meat is therefore a kind of food that complements many diets especially those that greatly rely on food stuff from plant source. Meat and its other products have high concentrations of good quality protein and their various amino acids which are sometimes absent in plants rich in protein. There is the supply of most of the easily absorbed minerals and vitamins from meat. Components of food which are found in higher concentrations than a few milligrams or micrograms per 100g of a particular kind of food and that they often give energy are said to be macronutrients, fortunately these nutrients make up about 98% of the edible portion of meat with water inclusion (Simonsen and Rogowski, 1988).

With all these and other benefits derived from meat, the risks associated with the eating of meat cannot be overlooked. There are many of them as mostly the health of the consumers is compromised. One of the risks involved in meat eating is the possible ingestion of contaminated meat, which has several ways of getting onto the meat. As much as meat has a high concentration of nutrients need by humans for healthy living, microorganisms also find meat as a good source of food for their living and survival. Their way of growth and survival may leave the meat unwholesome for humans. When meat safety assurance is mentioned, proper slaughterhouse design and good management practices are of prime importance.

The safety of our food is an issue of great public health concern all over the world especially very much crucial where the environment in which the food is produced, handled and processed is likely to be highly contaminated (EUFIC, 1996).Though there are advances in modern technology, food borne illnesses have become important concern in both developed and developing countries. A number of fresh foods especially those from animal source for instance beef are highly susceptible to microbial invasion and for that matter food poisoning. The raw meats in retail shops have been found to be potential means for spreading food-borne diseases and therefore there is a need for the practice of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point(HACCP) and the education of consumers on food safety,(Zhao et al,2001). Soyiri et al, (2008) found out that many slaughterhouses in Ghana have very poor facilities for meat production and do not have HACCP systems available and this can result in heavy loads of microbes. This heavy microbial load makes the meat unwholesome for human consumption or lead to incidence of food poisoning. Bacterial food poisoning is widely spread and occurs when our environments are untidy and the foods are not hygienically produced and maintained. Raw meats are sometimes found to be contaminated with bacteria which can be very harmful to humans, (Burgess et al, 2005; Tutenel et al, 2003). Sources of the microbes in meat could be an inherent micro-flora found in the tissues of animals, the air, surroundings, or contamination due to unhygienic slaughtering conditions, poor handling practices and bad processing conditions. Hobbs and Roberts, (1993) said that the major bacterial pathogens are Salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus, Clostridium botulinum, Clostridium perfringens, Bacillus cereus and Escherichia coli. These microbes cause microbiological and biochemical changes in meat which result in the production of toxic substances leading to the events of sicknesses like typhoid fever, cholera or other fatal diseases and even death in the extreme cases, (Soyiri et al, 2008).Yeast and molds are also kinds of microorganisms which cause meat spoilage and for that matter a threat to meat eating habit (EUFIC, 1996). Bacterial contamination is the worst and most common form microbial invasion which causes meat contamination. More than 74% of incidences of food poisoning are as result of meat dishes found in a report by Hobbs and Roberts (1993).

Food safety in general is evaluated in terms of acceptable levels of risk. Given the scope and magnitude of food supply in our local setting, there is no way to ensure that all food is kept free from potential sources of contamination. Instead, food and for that matter beef safety is enhanced by systematically concentrating upon lowering chances for pathogenic bacteria contamination at every point from meat production and processing to distribution, preparation, and even consumption. Different microbes are introduced onto the meat at each stage of beef production and processing these microbes tend to contaminate the meat, (Ebel et al, 2004; Sumner et al, 2003). Some of the microbes are inherent in the healthy animals on low counts and due to the kind of handling before and slaughter would allow them to increase in number. Others are gotten onto the meat by contamination by the equipment used or the personnel handling the meat. The acknowledgment of the way microbes behave would serve a good deal in addressing practical meat production issues. Their ways of life including conditions favorable for growth and reproduction would present ideas on how to reduce their presence. Poor sanitation in slaughterhouses coupled with bad personal hygienic practices and improper cleaning of meat stores are some of the ways by which meat get contaminated and cause spoilage while becoming threat for consumption. Meat quality is compromised when contamination cannot be controlled. The type and level of contamination are observed in order to maintain and improve the hygienic status and quality of meat produced by a slaughterhouse,( Inthavong et al,2006) Post-mortem meat inspection has been designed to ensure the safety and wholesomeness of meat and meat products. However, this inspection does not consider adequately the issues of microbial invasion of meat during the slaughter process and its consequences on humans after consumption, (Hudson et al, 1996). Another factor which is very important when microbial contamination is discussed is temperature. The surrounding temperature within which production and storage of meat are done contribute to how safe or highly contaminated the meat would be. There are certain temperature ranges within which microbes thrive very well and also increase in their numbers where all other conditions are available. This means that if the temperature under which meat is produced and sold is controlled then most of the microbes could also be controlled. Other factors like Ph, moisture, nutrient availability, initial microbial load just to mention a few would also affect the contamination of meat and meat products. The mode of transporting the meat to the retail centers could also be a possible means of introducing and increasing the numbers of already existing ones and even introduce new pathogenic microbes as well. The application of Hazards Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) principles can help reduce significant hazards in the production of beef (Reij et al., 2004). With some of these conditions suggesting the possibility of the beef on the market contaminated, the study therefore seeks to find out certain issues in relation to how safe the beef on the market is in terms of microbial loads.


General Objectives:

To ascertain the general safety of beef consumed by the public in the metropolis considering how the meat is sold. The implications of uncontrolled temperature during sales and even after sales in the incidence of leftover are not taken into account when meat quality is mentioned.

The specific objectives are to:

Identify potential pathogenic microbes on the beef.

Establish the microbiological safety of beef in the Kumasi Metropolis.




In the presence of unwanted substances in food which could be a physical, chemical or an organism, this food could be regarded as contaminated. The various stages in the conversion of live animals to meat present an unavoidable company of contamination, (Nouichi and Hamdi, 2009). The contaminant may be harmful or not depending on what effect it would have on the meat. Rosset (1996), found that majority of meat contaminants are introduced on the meat at the slaughterhouse. Meat could be contaminated with a whole lot of foreign matter when precautions are not taken seriously. Carcass contamination level depends on the cleanliness of the animal before slaughter, the types and number of microbes introduced during meat production and processing, the temperature as well as the time and storage, transportation and distribution conditions, (Nortje et al, 1990).

The different stages of the conversion from live animals into meat make the microbial

contamination of carcasses an unavoidable and undesirable result.


The physical contaminants of meat may occur without any major changes to the chemical and biochemical composition of the meat. Wagstrom (2004) reported that physical contaminants could enter meat during the pre-harvest activities due to items like broken needles. Hair, stones, machinery pieces splinters from pallets and others are the contaminants likely to found on the meat the production and processing of meat and other meat products,(Wagstrom,2004).


Chemical contamination of meat may occur as a result of residues of agrochemicals or pharmaceuticals used in animal production or due to toxins. These residues and toxins normally accumulate in the tissues of the animals which become meat after the animals are slaughtered. Most of the contaminants which find their way into the food chain may be pesticides, heavy metals and other chemicals from the livestock production,(Anonymous,2009). These chemicals are not detected by physical observation. The traditional veterinary inspection of meat does not consider this kind of contamination when there are no abnormalities in the organs inspected,(Gill,2000).


This kind of contamination is normally by living organisms which are small but could be seen by the naked eye or other only by the aid of microscopes. The visible ones could be identified and easily controlled or eliminated if possible.


The processes involved in meat production are accompanied by certain levels of contamination which can be controlled but not completely avoided, (Nouichi and Hamdi, 2009).Bell and Hathaway,(1996) reported that the major sources of contamination during meat production are the slaughtered animals themselves, the staff and the working conditions.


The nutrients in meat are the same ones microbes use for growth and thus survival making meat spoilage inevitable.



The microbes involved in meat contamination are normally from the

Very tiny living organisms only visible to the human eye with aid of a microscope are micro-organisms or microbes. They also find the

2.3.1. YEAST




Meat can act as an ideal substrate for microbial proliferation (3).


One of the critical environmental factors that affect bacterial growth is temperature. Temperature is an essential parameter in the measure of food safety, quality and wholesomeness. It affects the shelf-life of the food and whether that food would cause food poisoning too. Microorganisms and even inherent enzymes found in foods are able to perform well or not at certain temperatures. The grouping of bacteria is done roughly on the basis of suitable temperature for growth. They are classified as mesophiles (grow within the temperature of 10C and 52C), thermophiles (grow within temperature of 43C and 71C) and the psychrotrophs (grow within temperatures of 0C and 32C).The pychrotrophs and the mesophiles are the types of bacteria important to the meat industry. The pseudomonas, the spoilage microbes whereas the food poisoning ones like Salmonella and E. coli are psychrotrophs and mesophiles respectively, (Anonymous,1997

2.4.3. pH

The pH of food is one of the factors that affect the physicochemical properties of that meat, (Wajda1 et al, 2004). The easy way of bacteria invasion and shortened shell-life food are also influenced by the pH. Meat becomes very susceptible to microbial invasion even under the best production and processing conditions when the ultimate pH is high, (Hedrick et al., 1994). Microorganisms found on meat whether spoilage or pathogenic ones have a certain pH range to survive in. These microbes would not grow well below pH of 4.0 and above pH of 9.0, (Lawrie, 1991).


The outbreak of food- borne diseases is an important health problem in the world. Jay (2002) said that these diseases come third after cardiovascular and respiratory diseases in USA. The mean occurrences of food- borne diseases in the developed and developing countries are 38.3 and 915.8 in hundred thousand population respectively, (Tavakoli and Riazipour, 2008). Adams and Moss, (2002) found that the rate of the food-borne diseases incidence has increased from 19 cases in hundred thousand population in 1985 to 62 cases in hundred thousand population in Australia and in Spain from 30 cases in 1983 to 116 cases within the same population in 2001.Tavakoli and Riazipour (2008) reported that many developing countries like Ghana do not have accurate data on the incidence of food -borne diseases. This problem seems to be higher in the developing countries than that of the developed world due to poor and unhygienic conditions of production, processing, distribution and even points of sales conditions and also low health educational levels in these countries, (Tavakoli and Riazipour, 2008).The prevalence and incidence of food borne diseases in the developing countries are higher when compared to that of the developed countries, (Tokassian et al, 2004).Pathogens isolated from meat may cause self-limiting enteric illnesses or systemic and even fatal diseases to the immunocompromised, the young and even the elderly, (Marshall and Bal'a, 2001).Currently research has revealed that there is a continuous development and adaptation of resistant pathogenic microbes to antibiotics and gradually to the traditional food preservation methods, like heat application, solar drying, low water activity, low pH, and chemical additives, (Nouichi and Hamdi,(2009), said that Salmonella is one of the most common causes of bacterial gastroenteritis in humans in the world. Red meat and poultry are the major sources of the organism. There is a considerable increase in the outbreak of salmonellosis in most parts of the world, (Forshell and Wierup, 2006).The common clinical sign is gastroenteritis with nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea with or without fever.

Salmonella is among the most common causes of human bacterial gastroenteritis worldwide. Meats are frequently contaminated with Salmonella spp. and are consequently thought to be major sources of the

pathogen in humans. The true incidence of salmonellosis is difficult to evaluate because lack of an epidemiological system in place, which is particularly true in developing countries. However, the number of outbreaks particularly in humans has increased considerably in most parts of the world

(Forshell and Wierup., 2006). The most common clinical presentation is gastroenteritis with nausea,

vomiting, and diarrhea with or without fever.

Presently there is continuous adaptation and development of resistanceby pathogenic microorganisms to antibiotics andpotentially to traditional food preservation barriers,like low pH, heat, cold temperatures, dryness, lowwater activity and chemical additives (19).

Development of antibiotic resistance in food borne


bacterial pathogens (2). Meat safety duringprocessing, packaging, sorting, transporting,displaying, selling, cooking, serving and eventuallyconsumption ideally should be constantly under tightscrutiny by government officials, food processors,food handlers, food providers, and the consumersthemselves (3).



Prior to the start of the work, enquiries were made about how operations are carried out in the Abattoir. Workers of the Abattoir were given the idea of the exercise so that they would cooperate. Different people are found at each stage of production

The research was conducted at the Kumasi Abattoir Company Limited premises. The slaughter plant was where the swabs were taken from to identify the microbial contamination level of beef carcasses. The Maayanka market just near the Abattoir was also the place where swabs of benches and knives as well as meat samples from meat sellers were also taken. The swab samples taken were taken the Microbiology Laboratory of the Faculty of Applied and Theoretical Biology in Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology for the laboratory analyses.


The slaughter plant has two lines, lines A and B for beef production. Each line has a capacity of about 200 cattle per day. Five carcasses were considered in terms of swabs taken from each line. The swabs were taken with sterile cotton pads wet with peptone water. Swabs were taken at the neck of animals after their throats were cut, the knife used for the neck piercing, the surface of the flesh under the skin after flaying, inside of the carcass after evisceration, knife used for


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