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Quantitative risk assessment of Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat meats in Australia

Ross, Tom, Rasmussen, Sven, Fazil, Aamir, Paoli, Greg, Sumner, John
International journal of food microbiology 2009 v.131 no.2-3 pp. 128-137
ready-to-eat foods, meat, luncheon meats, sausages, cooked foods, ham, food contamination, quality control, risk factors, Listeria monocytogenes, food pathogens, bacterial contamination, HACCP, predictive microbiology, Monte Carlo method, microbial growth, plate count, risk management process, lactic acid bacteria, temperature, food storage, shelf life, Australia
Listeria monocytogenes is a food-borne pathogen that can contaminate processed meats and has caused outbreaks in several nations in which processed meats were the vehicle. Due to its ecology, the control of this organism in ready-to-eat meats is difficult. As a first step in improving risk management for this product:pathogen pair in Australia, a stochastic simulation model to predict the numbers of L. monocytogenes likely to be consumed in those products under a wide range of scenarios was developed. The predictions are based on data describing initial contamination levels of both lactic acid bacteria and L. monocytogenes, product formulation, times and temperatures of distribution and storage prior to consumption, and consumption patterns. The model was used to estimate the probable numbers of cases of listeriosis due to processed meats in Australia per year. The model predicted that processed meats could be responsible for up to ~40% of cases of listeriosis in Australia, a level considered credible by comparison with available epidemiological data. The reliability of the model, as well as data gaps and further research needs, is discussed.