Surface Slime

a. Common on Food Products with High Moisture Content. Surface slime is found on the surfaces of (or within) food products which have a high moisture content. Slime can be found on meat products, fresh fruits and vegetables, waterfoods, and various other foods. The surface of product will be "slippery" to the touch. The veterinary food inspection specialist should be aware that early stages of slime formation may not be readily recognizable. It may be frequently mistaken for a film of surface fat. As a general rule, however, an off-odor is detected before the "slime" can be physically detected.

b. Cause of Surface Slime. Surface slime is caused by the growth of bacteria, mainly of the lactic acid type which includes Lactobacillus, Leuconostoc, Streptococcus, and Pseudomonas. The slime is actually billions of bacteria on the surface of the product and is not a metabolic product of the microorganisms. All of the causative bacteria are able to grow at refrigerator temperatures on the moist surfaces of the food item.

c. Visible Slime. The time interval for the onset of visible slime is dependent upon the amount of initial surface contamination, the holding temperatures of the food, and the amount of surface moisture.

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