Research report

A Microbiological Survey of Minced Beef at Retail in Scotland

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This report details the results of a survey of beef mince at retail, in which about 1000 samples of beef mince across Scotland were sampled in 2019. The survey had three core objectives:

  • To determine the overall presence of three significant microbiological pathogens and two process hygiene indicators in Scottish beef mince.
  • To identify levels of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in microbes found in beef mince sold in Scotland; and
  • To identify any differences (e.g. seasonal or geographic) associated with increased likelihood of microbial contamination.

The survey found levels of Campylobacter at 0.1% and Salmonella 0.3%, and Shigatoxigenic Escherichia coli (STEC) at 3.5% contamination in the products tested.

The levels of microbiological quality were encouraging, and in line with similar studies in other countries in the past. Additionally, the study also identified no significant differences between confirmed STEC and all tested factors, such as season, geographical location, or retailer type.

Beef mince sold in Scotland is not intended to be eaten raw or less than thoroughly cooked. Unless the food packaging says otherwise, you should thoroughly cook your mince. Follow all cooking instructions on the food packaging and wash your hands immediately after handling raw mince. If in doubt, consult the FSS website on safe cooking of food at home.

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