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Sources and survival of Listeria monocytogenes on fresh, leafy produce

Smith, A., Moorhouse, E., Monaghan, J., Taylor, C., Singleton, I.
Journal of applied microbiology 2018 v.125 no.4 pp. 930-942
Listeria monocytogenes, animal pathogens, bacteria, farm to fork, food contamination, food supply chain, fresh produce, lettuce, risk, salads, spinach
Listeria monocytogenes is an intracellular human pathogen which enters the body through contaminated food stuffs and is known to contaminate fresh leafy produce such as spinach, lettuce and rocket. Routinely, fresh leafy produce is grown and processed on a large scale before reaching the consumer through various products such as sandwiches and prepared salads. From farm to fork, the fresh leafy produce supply chain (FLPSC) is complex and contains a diverse range of environments where L. monocytogenes is sporadically detected during routine sampling of produce and processing areas. This review describes sources of the bacteria in the FLPSC and outlines the physiological and molecular mechanisms behind its survival in the different environments associated with growing and processing fresh produce. Finally, current methods of source tracking the bacteria in the context of the food supply chain are discussed with emphasis on how these methods can provide additional, valuable information on the risk that L. monocytogenes isolates pose to the consumer.