Skip to main content

Microbiological Safety of Retail Vacuum-Packed and Modified-Atmosphere-Packed Cooked Meats at End of Shelf Life

Buy Article:

$37.00 plus tax (Refund Policy)


A study of retail modified-atmosphere-packed and vacuum-packed cooked ready-to-eat meats was undertaken from September through mid-November 2003 to determine the microbiological quality at the end of shelf life and to establish any risk factors in the production, storage, and display of this product. Examination of 2,981 samples using Microbiological Guidelines criteria revealed that 66% were of satisfactory or acceptable microbiology quality, 33% were of unsatisfactory quality mainly due to high aerobic colony counts and Enterobacteriaceae concentrations, and 1% were of unacceptable quality due to the presence of Listeria monocytogenes at 100 CFU/g or higher (27 samples; range of 102 to 106 CFU/g) and Campylobacter jejuni (1 sample), indicating a risk to health. All samples at the end of the shelf life had satisfactory (<20 CFU/g) and/or acceptable (<102 CFU/g) levels of Staphylococcus aureus and Clostridium perfringens, four samples (<1%) had unsatisfactory levels of Escherichia coli (range of 102 to 106 CFU/g) and 5.5% of the samples contained L. monocytogenes at 20 CFU/g (4.8%) or between 20 and 100 CFU/g (0.7%). More samples of chicken (45%; 224 of 495 samples), beef (43%; 160 of 371 samples), and turkey (41%; 219 of 523 samples) were of unsatisfactory or unacceptable quality compared with ham (23%; 317 of 1,351 samples) or pork (32%; 67 of 206 samples). Twelve different L. monocytogenes typing characters (serotype–amplified fragment length polymorphism type–phage type) were evaluated for isolates recovered from samples of unacceptable quality, and the 1/2-IX-NT type was recovered from almost half (48%) of these samples. Salmonella was not detected in any samples examined. Risk factors identified for cooked meats that were microbiologically contaminated more frequently included vacuum packaging, packaging on retail premises, slicing, temperature not monitored in display units, and no hazard analysis system in place. Results from this study also suggest that the shelf life assigned to some modified-atmosphere-packed and vacuum-packed meats may not be appropriate.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Gastrointestinal Infections, Centre for Infections, Health Protection Agency, London NW9 5EQ, United Kingdom 2: Food and Environmental Microbiology Services North West, Preston Microbiology Services, Royal Preston Hospital, Preston PR2 9HG, United Kingdom

Publication date: April 1, 2007

More about this publication?
  • IAFP Members with personal subscriptions to JFP Online: To access full-text JFP or JMFT articles, you must sign-in in the upper-right corner using your Ingenta sign-in details (your IAFP Member Login does not apply to this website).

    The Journal of Food Protection (JFP) is a refereed monthly publication. Each issue contains scientific research and authoritative review articles reporting on a variety of topics in food science pertaining to food safety and quality. The Journal is internationally recognized as the leading publication in the field of food microbiology with a readership exceeding 11,000 scientists from 70 countries. The Journal of Food Protection is indexed in Index Medicus, Current Contents, BIOSIS, PubMed, Medline, and many others.

    Print and online subscriptions are available to IAFP Members and institutional subscribers. IAFP Members with a subscription to JFP Online will have access to all available JFP and JMFT content. Online visitors who are not IAFP Members or journal subscribers will be charged on a pay-per-view basis. Membership and subscription information is available at
  • Information for Authors
  • Submit a Paper
  • Subscribe to this Title
  • Membership Information
  • Information for Advertisers
  • ingentaconnect is not responsible for the content or availability of external websites

Access Key

Free Content
Free content
New Content
New content
Open Access Content
Open access content
Subscribed Content
Subscribed content
Free Trial Content
Free trial content
Cookie Policy
Cookie Policy
ingentaconnect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more