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Application of the BAX for Screening/Genus Listeria Polymerase Chain Reaction System for Monitoring Listeria Species in Cold-Smoked Fish and in the Smoked Fish Processing Environment

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The cold-smoked fish industry was used as a model for the development of a system for monitoring Listeria spp. in foods and in the food processing environment. A total of 214 samples including raw fish, fish during the cold-smoking process, finished product, and environmental samples were collected from three processing facilities over two visits to each facility. Samples were screened for Listeria spp. using the BAX for Screening/genus Listeria polymerase chain reaction system (PCR) and by culture. Listeria spp., confirmed by the API Listeria test strip or by a PCR assay targeting the L. monocytogenes hlyA gene, were isolated from a total of 89 (41.6%) samples. Of these, 80 samples also tested positive for Listeria spp. using the BAX system. Specifically, 42 (55.3%) environmental samples (n = 76), 11 (25.6%) raw materials samples (n = 43), 20 (35.1%) samples from fish in various stages of processing (n = 57), and 7 (18.4%) finished product samples (n = 38) tested positive for Listeria spp. using the BAX system. Five (4.0%) of the 125 culture-negative samples yielded BAX system-positive results. Listeria isolates from each of nine culture-positive/BAX system-negative samples yielded a positive reaction when tested in pure culture by the BAX system, suggesting that our false-negative results were likely due to the presence of low Listeria numbers in the initial enrichment as opposed to nonreacting isolates. The employment of alternative enrichment protocols, such as the two-step enrichment recommended by the manufacturer, may increase the sensitivity of the assay.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Food Science, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA

Publication date: March 1, 2000

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