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Acceptable micro limits for pork products?

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Posted 23 February 2018 - 05:36 PM



Im doing shelf-life studies for a pork fresh meat, ready to eat, and not ready to eat product. From this time we dont have any previous study on what acceptable limit for any microbial test prior for the shelf life in-house testing. I hope someone can gave me some idea or sharing some information that I can used as references. 





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Posted 23 February 2018 - 08:30 PM

For Not ready to eat and Raw or Fresh pork--Depending on the cooking or safe handling instructions, i.e. "cook to internal temperature of" you will need to determine the log reduction of any pathogen. Generic E coli and coliforms contains pathogens and will need to be considered pathogens when determining the upper limit allowed in a fresh product. If pork is only cooked to 145F as USDA guidance than you will need to refer to USDA-FSIS lethality temps for Salmonella (which is a coliform) to refer which log reduction can be achieved at that temperature. This reference can be done for any of the temperatures listed on the charts on Appendix A.


For RTE pork, it is important also to understand that E coli and coliforms include pathogens and are found undetectable in RTE products. However, a RTE product should be categorized that way because of a robust HACCP plan and validated CCP to eliminate all pathogens. So if pathogens are eliminated, the only concern will be spoilage organisms. Spoilage can occur at levels of 4 log to 8 log TPC (total plate count) or APC (aerobic plate count). The test will be determined by the packaging environment. If it is a modified atmosphere or oxygen available packaging than use APC. If it is oxygen depleted or vacuum sealed than use TPC.


Sliminess on the surface usually indicates microbial spoilage. But to understand this fully, shelf life testing is necessary to know at what level the spoilage will occur for that particular pork product.

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Posted 23 February 2018 - 08:44 PM

Can't say what impact it will have on your shelf life studies, those are based on organoleptic properties and there are numerous discussions on the forum regarding how those should be established. It's a book-sized topic and there is not a magic number.


As far as a specification for selling raw meats, NACMCF has some specifications outlined here.


Relevant to you are pages 152 down to see several meat specifications.

Austin Bouck
Owner/Consultant at Fur, Farm, and Fork.
Consulting for companies needing effective, lean food safety systems and solutions.

Subscribe to the blog at furfarmandfork.com for food safety research, insights, and analysis.

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Posted 24 February 2018 - 03:22 PM

Hi Ulysses,


No idea for Canada but I can recall from a previous thread that for UK there are Regulatory specified micro. limits for pork raw material and pork finished RTE products.


Seems likely Canada will be similar.


As per previous posts some answers are easy - eg Salmonella / Pathogenic E.Coli will be "non detected" which I'm sure you knew already.


Looks like a search of CFIA website is indicated.

Kind Regards,



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