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Processing plant and machinery sanitation and hygiene practices associate with Listeria monocytogenes occurrence in ready-to-eat fish products

Aalto-Araneda, Mariella, Lundén, Janne, Markkula, Annukka, Hakola, Satu, Korkeala, Hannu
Food microbiology 2019 v.82 pp. 455-464
Listeria monocytogenes, Oncorhynchus mykiss, at-risk population, death, equipment, fish processing plants, foodborne illness, hygiene, linear models, listeriosis, questionnaires, ready-to-eat foods, risk assessment, risk reduction, sanitation, seafoods, smoked salmon, vacuum packaging, Europe
Listeria monocytogenes causes the foodborne illness listeriosis, which exhibits high fatality among people in risk groups. The incidence of listeriosis has increased in Europe, which raises concerns about L. monocytogenes occurrence in foodstuffs. Ready-to-eat seafood products are considered particularly risky vehicles. Poor hygiene at processing facilities predisposes them to L. monocytogenes contamination, which can be controlled by stringent self-checking system measures. We examined the association of fish-processing plant operational and hygiene practices with the occurrence of L. monocytogenes in vacuum-packaged gravad (cold-salted) and cold-smoked salmon and rainbow trout products. Product sampling of 21 fish-processing plants was carried out, and operational procedures relating to L. monocytogenes control were surveyed using an in-depth risk assessment questionnaire. L. monocytogenes occurred only in sliced and mainly in gravad products of seven fish-processing plants. Shortages in preventive measures were discovered predominantly among the L. monocytogenes positive fish-processing plants. Using generalized linear modeling, we identified the following features associated with L. monocytogenes product contamination: the number of processing machines, deficiencies in the processing environment and machinery sanitation, and staff movement from areas of low toward high hygiene. Furthermore, performing frequent periodic thorough sanitation alongside everyday sanitation practices associated with a decreased risk of product contamination.