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Detection of Listeria spp. and L. monocytogenes in pooled test portion samples of processed dairy products

Jagadeesan, Balamurugan, Bastic Schmid, Viktoria, Kupski, Brian, McMahon, Wendy, Klijn, Adrianne
International journal of food microbiology 2019 v.289 pp. 30-39
Brie cheese, Listeria monocytogenes, detection limit, food pathogens, food safety, ice cream, infant formulas, milk, temperature, yogurt
Listeria monocytogenes is a major foodborne pathogen. Testing multiple portions of the same final product is often required to verify the effectiveness of a food safety management system. Therefore, it will be advantageous to the laboratories to combine these test portions and process as one sample. However, combining samples for analysis, i.e., pooling, can be done only if there is no negative impact on the result. The objective of this study was to validate pooling of test portions for the detection of L. monocytogenes and Listeria spp. in dairy products as no scientific evidence currently exists to support this practice. Six representative matrices, namely, pudding, yogurt, brie cheese, 2% milk, ice cream and infant formula were spiked separately with stressed L. monocytogenes and Listeria spp. in 25 g and pooled test portions (375 g/250 g/125 g). Two methods, namely, ISO-11290-1:1996 Amd1:2004 and a validated alternative method Rapid'L.Mono were used for sample testing. Performance of a method in pooled test portions was considered to be satisfactory if the relative limit of detection (RLOD50; LOD50 [pooled test portion]/LOD50 [25 g test portion]) and limit of detection (LOD50) obtained was ≤2.5 and 1 CFU or MPN, respectively. Results obtained from L. monocytogenes and Listeria spp. trials were given equal weightage to decide on the impact of pooling. Acceptable RLOD50 and LOD50 values were consistently obtained in L. monocytogenes and Listeria spp. inoculation experiments when test portions were pooled up to 125 g for all matrices tested with both methods. While there was a slight delay for the primary enrichment of the pooled test portions to reach the desired incubation temperature when compared to the 25 g test portions, it did not negatively impact the outcome when samples were pooled up to 125 g. Background organisms were in general present at low concentrations and did not seem to adversely impact the recovery of the target organism in 125 g samples. Thus, pooling of test portions to up to 125 g for the detection of L. monocytogenes and Listeria spp. by two culture methods in processed dairy products has been validated.