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Occurrence and Distribution of Listeria Species in Facilities Producing Ready-to-Eat Foods in British Columbia, Canada

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In British Columbia (BC), Canada, food processing facilities licensed under provincial authority are not required to sample for Listeria monocytogenes in food products or processing environments. In 2009, we conducted a survey of dairy, fish, and meat facilities under BC authority to estimate the prevalence of Listeria spp. and L. monocytogenes in ready-to-eat (RTE) foods and production environments. From August to October, 250 RTE food samples and 258 swabs from the food processing environments of 43 facilities were collected. Standard culture methods were applied to both food samples and swabs. Of swabs collected from all 258 environmental surfaces, 15% were positive for Listeria spp. Significantly (P, 0.001) more fish facilities than dairy and meat facilities had food contact surfaces contaminated with Listeria spp. L. monocytogenes was found in RTE foods from fish facilities alone (5 of 12); in all five of the fish facilities with contaminated product, one or more environmental swabs were also positive for L. monocytogenes. The results suggest that while control of L. monocytogenes in BC-inspected dairy and meat facilities is effective in limiting food contamination, there is a need for provincial inspectors to initiate improved monitoring and management of contamination by L. monocytogenes in RTE fish processing facilities.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Food, Nutrition and Health Program, Faculty of Land and Food Systems, University of British Columbia, 2205 East Mall, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V6T 1Z4. 2: Environmental Health Services, British Columbia Centre for Disease Control, 655 West 12th Avenue, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V5Z 4R4

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