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Evaluation of the microbiological contamination of food processing environments through implementing surface sensors in an iberian pork processing plant: An approach towards the control of Listeria monocytogenes

Ripolles-Avila, C., Hascoët, A.S., Martínez-Suárez, J.V., Capita, R., Rodríguez-Jerez, J.J.
Food control 2019 v.99 pp. 40-47
Listeria monocytogenes, biofilm, cross contamination, economic productivity, floors, food contamination, food industry, food processing, foodborne illness, foods, industrialization, meat processing plants, microbial contamination, microorganisms
Food safety is one of the biggest concerns of food industrial development due to the risk of foodborne diseases, which are one of the most relevant health problems in the contemporary world and an important cause of reduced economic productivity. One of the main sources of microbial contamination in food products are industrial surfaces, which are colonized by pathogenic microorganisms capable of forming biofilms, making surfaces into reservoirs and potential sources of cross-contamination to food products. A study was conducted to determine the microbiological contamination from different microbial groups on different industrial surfaces in a meat processing plant through implementing a sensor-based sampling system, with a focus on detecting L. monocytogenes. The results obtained showed two main groups of areas with greater and lesser degrees of microbiological contamination, determined as the total aerobic counts of the microbial group with the highest contribution. The areas considered as major contributors to microbial contamination were three of the sampled floors and the storage cabinet for tools, demonstrating to be important sources of possible cross-contamination. A total of four L. monocytogenes presences were obtained during sampling. Moreover, a direct relation was observed between aerobic counts and detecting L. monocytogenes, and three possible hypotheses were formulated to explain the connection. Last, a safety zone marking the limits beyond which the surface can be considered as a safety risk was established, although more studies are needed to demonstrate if these limits can be used as an internal hygienic surface control. The use of SCH sensors as a surface sampling system for the food industry have been shown to work effectively and with relative ease.