An Ohio firm is recalling salami products after it was determined that the cooling step in the process appears to have had a deviation in that the product was not cooled enough. This facility operated under state jurisdiction but participated in the Cooperative Interstate Shipment (CIS) program. Under CIS, state-inspected plants can operate like a federally-inspected facility by meeting specific conditions, and then ship their product in interstate commerce and internationally.
The hazard of concern for meat cooling is Clostridium perfringens. FSIS has requirements that must be met for cooling (also called stabilization) which are defined in Appendix B.
Clostridium perfringens is a sporeforming pathogen that can exist in soil, water, food, meat, spices and vegetables. The spores are heat resistant and can survive cooking temperatures such as process for cooking processed meat products (Dvalue at 212F ranges from 0.7 min to 38.4 min). If present in the raw materials, the numbers are very low, if present at all. It only becomes a risk if the cooked product is temperature abused where the number of organisms reach a high number. It divides very fast in the 90F to 115F range (can be as fast as every 10 minutes or less).
The symptoms of the illness occur within 6 to 24 hours after eating the contaminated food and these symptoms include diarrhea and acute abdominal pain. The illness occurs when the food contains large numbers of bacteria, that once consumed, sporulate in the intestines and thus releasing the toxin. Toxin can also be preformed in the food.
It is interesting to note that this is a cured meat, and being a cured meat, Clostridium pathogens are controlled by nitrite.
Dr. Bruce Tompkin provided a comment on this topic, which I wanted to add here:
This recall reminds me of the long, unfinished debate about whether C. perfringens is a significant hazard and for that reason chilling should be a CCP in the HACCP plan for cooked cured meat products.
This recall also is unfortunate because it is not likely to have any public health benefit because cured meats have not been associated with C. perfringens illness with one notable exception.
That exception is corned beef that has been cooked in water in a home or food service establishment and subsequently held at time-temperatures that permit germination and outgrowth. Long cooking in water likely reduces the salt and nitrite levels to non-inhibitory levels.
Otherwise, “there is no history of C. perfringens diarrhea associated with cured meat products since the bacillus is relatively sensitive to sodium chloride and nitrite” (ICMSF Book 5. 1996. page 116). Similar statements can be found elsewhere in the literature.
We investigated chilling deviations and conducted other research to better understand why the risk of C. perfringens illness from commercially processed RTE meat and poultry products is very low (Kalinowski et al. 2003. JFP 66:1227-1232). That research investigated both cured and non-cured products.
The publications of Jackson et al in 2011 (JFP 74:410-416 and 417-424) are among the more recent studies that lead to the conclusion that C. perfringens should not be considered a significant hazard in “conventionally cured” meats.
The risk assessment by Crouch et al in 2009 (JFP 72:1376-1384) led to the conclusions that ”Improper retail and consumer refrigeration accounted for the majority of the predicted C. perfringens illnesses, while stabilization accounted for less than 1% of illnesses. Therefore, efforts to reduce illnesses in RTE/PC meat and poultry products should focus on retail and consumer storage and preparation methods.” This agrees with experience in the UK and Australia as mentioned in Kalinowski et al. 2003.
Yes, cooked cured products are now chilled faster and more orderly but I do not recall any instance of C. perfringens illness occurring from an improperly chilled cured RTE product between 1964 when I started in the industry, 1988 when the initial chilling guidelines were implemented and 1999 when FSIS finalized its stricter chilling/stabilization regulations.
FSIS Recall Notice
Ohio Firm Recalls Salami Products Due To Possible Temperature Abuse
Class I Recall 024-2015
Health Risk: High Jan 30, 2015
Congressional and Public Affairs Whitney Joy (202) 720-9113
WASHINGTON, Jan. 30, 2015 – Great Lakes Smoked Meats, a Lorain, Ohio establishment, is recalling approximately 2,863 pounds of smoked salami product, which may have experienced temperature abuse and may contain Clostridium perfringens, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.