in institutions (such as hotels, school cafeterias, and university dining rooms) and at
dinners and picnics where large numbers are in attendance. The foods involved are
almost always meat and poultry products which have been cooked and left
unrefrigerated at warm temperatures for several hours. The food appears normal in
appearance, taste, and smell, but very large numbers of organisms may be present.
c. Clostridium botulinum. The most serious but fortunately the rarest type of
food poisoning is botulism. Botulism is caused by the extremely potent neurotoxin
produced by the growth of Clostridium botulinum. The organism is widely distributed
through the soil and may be only rarely present in meat products. There is a low
reported incidence of all clostridial spores in meats. Most of the foods involved in the
US have been improperly home-canned vegetables. However, a 1963 outbreak,
arising from improper commercial processing of liver paste, illustrates the possibility of
this type of food poisoning taking place in meat products.
d. Staphylococcus aureus. There is a toxicogenic type of food poisoning
caused by the growth of S. aureus. The staphylococcal enterotoxin responsible for the
food poisoning is very resistant to heat and is much more heat resistant than the
organism. This organism is widely distributed in nature. It has been isolated from the
noses of approximately 50 percent of normally healthy individuals. It frequently infects cuts,
burns, abrasions, and hair follicles. Thus, any meat product that is touched by human
hands stands a reasonable chance of being inoculated with staphylococci. The foods
most commonly involved in this foodborne illness are poultry products and ham.
e. Escherichia coli 0157:H7. There is a toxicogenic type of diarrhea caused by
E. coli 0157:H7. It is sometimes called "hemorrhagic colitis" and is a more severe form
of diarrhea than the more common "traveler's disease." The diarrhea is initially watery
but becomes bloody. It can lead to life-threatening conditions for the very young and, in
the elderly, to a condition with a 50 percent mortality rate. The food most commonly involved
in this illness is undercooked or raw ground meat.
f. Other Microorganisms. Occasionally, there have been other bacteria
implicated in food poisoning outbreaks besides the four types just discussed. These
include Streptococcus faecalis, Bacillus cereus, Proteus species, Escherichia coli, and
In the case of deterioration of unknown cause, the veterinarian will need to make
the decision as to whether a potential health hazard is present or not.
a. Inspector Action. Utilizing all known information regarding the deteriorative
meat and meat products, you will make recommendations concerning the product.
Complete the appropriate forms and reports in accordance with local SOP.