Tracking Cross-Contamination Transfer Dynamics at a Mock Retail Deli Market Using GloGerm

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Ready-to-eat (RTE) deli meats are considered a food at high risk for causing foodborne illness. Deli meats are listed as the highest risk RTE food vehicle for Listeria monocytogenes. Cross-contamination in the retail deli market may contribute to spread of pathogens to deli meats. Understanding potential cross-contamination pathways is essential for reducing the risk of contaminating various products. The objective of this study was to track cross-contamination pathways through a mock retail deli market using an abiotic surrogate, GloGerm, to visually represent how pathogens may spread through the deli environment via direct contact with food surfaces. Six contamination origination sites (slicer blade, meat chub, floor drain, preparation table, employee's glove, and employee's hands) were evaluated separately. Each site was inoculated with 20 ml of GloGerm, and a series of standard deli operations were completed (approximately 10 min of work). Photographs were then taken under UV illumination to visualize spread of GloGerm throughout the deli. A sensory panel evaluated the levels of contamination on the resulting contaminated surfaces. Five of the six contamination origination sites were associated with transfer of GloGerm to the deli case door handle, slicer blade, meat chub, preparation table, and the employee's gloves. Additional locations became contaminated (i.e., deli case shelf, prep table sink, and glove box), but this contamination was not consistent across all trials. Contamination did not spread from the floor drain to any food contact surfaces. The findings of this study reinforce the need for consistent equipment cleaning and food safety practices among deli workers to minimize cross-contamination.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Food Science and Technology, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia 24061 2: Department of Food Science and Technology, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia 24061;, Email: 3: Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia 24061 4: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Office of Public Health Science, Risk Assessment Division, 1400 Independence Avenue S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250, USA

Publication date: February 1, 2013

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