[en] Aims: The potential use of bifidobacteria as indicators for faecal contamination was studied along a sheep meat production and processing chain. The levels of bifidobacteria were compared with those of Escherichia coli. Total viable counts were followed along the chain (244 samples). Methods and Results: Forty-three per cent of the samples contained bifidobacteria, of which 15% were solely detected using a PCR method based on the hsp60 gene and not by a culture-based method. Bifidobacteria were detected in only three of nine sheep faeces samples using one or the other method. However, carcasses (types C and E) were highly contaminated. These sample types (30% and 28%, respectively) were positive for bifidobacteria and negative for E. coli. The species Bifidobacterium pseudolongum and Bif. thermophilum, isolated from faecal samples, were predominant. Bifidobacterium choerinum were found in C, D, E and F sample types. Conclusions: Bifidobacteria were shown more efficient than E. coli in carcasses samples. The presence of Bif. choerinum suggested a faecal pork contamination. Significance and Impact of the Study: Detection and identification of bifidobacteria, in correlation with E. coli counting, should improve hygiene quality of mutton processing chains.
Commission européenne : Direction générale de la Recherche