To assess the antimicrobial effect of a commercial steam-vacuuming system newly implemented after slaughtering, 105 cattle carcasses were examined for total viable counts (TVC) at four different areas. Before steam vacuuming, mean TVC of the excision samples were comparable at the perineal area and brisket (3.0-3.1 log CFU cm-2) or the hind leg and shoulder (2.6-2.7 log CFU cm-2). Steam vacuuming reduced mean TVC by 0.9, 0.7, 0.6, and 0.4 log CFU cm-2 at the perineal area, hind leg, shoulder, and brisket, respectively. With regard to the distribution of counts, steam vacuuming increased the proportion of TVC results -2 from 74.8% (62.9- 87.6% at carcass areas) to 86.7% (71.4- 97.1% at carcass areas). Thus, steam vacuuming after slaughtering might be useful for the reduction of contamination in designated carcass areas, but the effect must not be overestimated and decontamination treatments always must be seen part of an integral food safety system.
Cattle carcasses; Steam vacuuming; Routine operations; Total viable counts; Carcass decontamination