Thermal inactivation profiles of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis in lamb skeletal muscle homogenate fluid.
Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (MAP) causes Johne's disease in livestock and there is a debate about its role in humans in chronic inflammatory bowel disorders such as Crohn's disease, but the relationship remains unproven. Nevertheless livestock health authorities in many countries aim to lower the prevalence of this infection to reduce potential contamination of the human food supply. MAP may occur in bovine milk and data on thermal inactivation suggest pasteurisation is an effective process. Recently MAP has been identified in skeletal muscle of cattle and sheep but there are no data on its thermal inactivation in these substrates. In this study the inactivation of MAP was studied in a fluid homogenate of lamb skeletal muscle at temperatures previously identified as being relevant to cooking processes applied by domestic consumers. A PCR thermocycler was used to ensure accurate temperatures and rapid heat exchange, while radiometric culture was used to ensure sensitive detection of viable MAP for determination of D and z values. Among the two predominant strains of MAP, S and C, D55 ranged from 56 to 89 min, D60 was 8 to 11 min, D65 was 26 to 35 s while D70 was 1.5 to 1.8 s. Values for z were 4.21 C° for the S strain and 4.51 C° for the C strain. At temperatures of 65-70°C, MAP appeared to be less heat tolerant in skeletal muscle fluid than in previous reports using milk as the medium. The total thermal exposure of MAP during baking of a sample of 16 leg-of-lamb roasts in domestic ovens was determined to result in more than 20 log reductions in most cases, that is the product was microbiologically safe. Based on the models used in this study, there is a low probability of survival of MAP provided that red meat is cooked to recommended standards.