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Contamination of salmon fillets and processing plants with spoilage bacteria

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Kjetil Aune

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kjetil.aune@nofima.no

International Journal of Food Microbiology ; Volume 237. p. 98–108. 2016

Møretrø, Trond; Moen, Birgitte; Heir, Even; Hansen, Anlaug; Langsrud, Solveig

The processing environment of salmon processing plants represents a potential major source of bacteria causing spoilage of fresh salmon. In this study, we have identified major contamination routes of important spoilage associated species within the genera Pseudomonas, Shewanella and Photobacterium in pre-rigor processing of salmon. Bacterial counts and culture-independent 16S rRNA gene analysis on salmon fillet from seven processing plants showed higher levels of Pseudomonas spp. and Shewanella spp. in industrially processed fillets compared to salmon processed under strict hygienic conditions. Higher levels of Pseudomonas spp. and Shewanella spp. were found on fillets produced early on the production day compared to later processed fillets. The levels of Photobacterium spp. were not dependent on the processing method or time of processing. In follow-up studies of two plants, bacterial isolates (n = 2101) from the in-plant processing environments (sanitized equipment/machines and seawater) and from salmon collected at different sites in the production were identified by partial 16S rRNA gene sequencing. Pseudomonas spp. dominated in equipment/machines after sanitation with 72 and 91% of samples from the two plants being Pseudomonas-positive. The phylogenetic analyses, based on partial 16S rRNA gene sequencing, showed 48 unique sequence profiles of Pseudomonas of which two were dominant. Only six profiles were found on both machines and in fillets in both plants. Shewanella spp. were found on machines after sanitation in the slaughter department while Photobacterium spp. were not detected after sanitation in any parts of the plants. Shewanella spp. and Photobacterium spp. were found on salmon in the slaughter departments. Shewanella was frequently present in seawater tanks used for bleeding/short term storage. In conclusion, this study provides new knowledge on the processing environment as a source of contamination of salmon fillets with Pseudomonas spp. and Shewanella spp., while Photobacterium spp. most likely originate from the live fish and seawater. The study show that strict hygiene during processing is a prerequisite for optimal shelf life of salmon fillets and that about 90% reductions in the initial levels of bacteria on salmon fillets can be obtained using optimal hygienic conditions.

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