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Contamination Patterns of Listeria monocytogenes in Cold-Smoked Pork Processing

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Abstract:

Contamination patterns of Listeria monocytogenes were studied in a cold-smoked pork processing plant to identify the sources and possible reasons for the contamination. Environmental sampling combined with pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) subtyping and serotyping were applied to investigate the genetic diversity of L. monocytogenes in the plant environment and ready-to-eat (RTE) cold-smoked pork products. A total of 183 samples were collected for contamination analyses, including samples of the product at different stages during manufacture (n = 136) and environmental samples (n = 47) in 2009. L. monocytogenes isolates, previously recovered from 73 RTE cold-smoked pork samples and collected from the same meat processing plant in 2004, were included in this study. The brining machine and personnel working with brining procedures were the most contaminated places with L. monocytogenes. The overall prevalence of L. monocytogenes in raw pork (18%) increased to 60% after the brining injections. The brining machine harbored six different PFGE types belonging to serotypes 1/2a, 1/2c, 4b, and 4d, which were found on the feeding teeth, smooth surfaces, and spaces of the machine, thus potentially facilitating dissemination of L. monocytogenes contamination. Two PFGE types (2 and 8) belonging to serotypes 1/2a and 1/2c were recovered from RTE cold-smoked pork collected in 2004, and from surfaces of the brining machine sampled in 2009, and may indicate the presence of persistent L. monocytogenes strains in the plant. Due to poor hygiene design, removal of the brining machine from the production of cold-smoked meat products should be considered to reduce L. monocytogenes contamination in the finished products.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Food Hygiene and Environmental Health, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 66, 00014 Helsinki, Finland; Institute of Food and Environmental Hygiene, Latvia University of Agriculture, K. Helmaņa Str. 8, 3004, Jelgava, Latvia 2: Department of Food Hygiene and Environmental Health, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 66, 00014 Helsinki, Finland 3: Institute of Food and Environmental Hygiene, Latvia University of Agriculture, K. Helmaņa Str. 8, 3004, Jelgava, Latvia

Publication date: November 1, 2010

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