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Performance of two commercial rapid methods for sampling and detection of Listeria in small-scale cheese producing and salmon processing environments

Schirmer, Bjørn C.T., Langsrud, Solveig, Møretrø, Trond, Hagtvedt, Therese, Heir, Even
Journal of microbiological methods 2012 v.91 no.2 pp. 295-300
Carnobacterium piscicola, Enterococcus, Listeria, bacteria, cheeses, flora, hygiene, polymerase chain reaction, rapid methods, salmon
Two commercially available all-in-one swab rapid detection systems for Listeria spp. (InSite Listeria Test and Path-Chek hygiene Listeria) were tested for performance in cheese production environments and salmon processing facilities. Sampling was conducted both on clean surfaces and during production. A total of 338 samples were taken using the swabs (175 in cheese environments, 163 in salmon environments). Conventional sampling using sterile cloths and standardized qualitative detection of Listeria spp. according to NMKL method no. 136 was performed in parallel from 64 sampling sites in the salmon processing facilities and 40 sampling sites in the cheese production facilities. Results showed that both rapid swab tests detected Listeria spp.; however, they returned significant amounts of false positives. Presence of Listeria spp. was indicated in 47% and 41% of all swabs in the cheese and salmon environments, respectively. Enrichment followed by selective plating and Listeria specific PCR confirmed none of the 82 presumptive positive swabs from the cheese environment and 16 of 67 presumptive positive swabs from the salmon environments, respectively. Further analysis showed that several other bacteria, including Enterococcus spp. and Carnobacterium maltaromaticum, were the source of false positive swab results. From salmon processing facilities, using cloth sampling and standard analyses, 22% Listeria positive sampling sites were confirmed compared to 9% and 11% positives obtained using InSite or Path-Chek detection systems. From the cheese production environments, no Listeria positive sites were confirmed using either swab or cloth sampling. In conclusion, the use of these rapid detection methods was not suited in the selected environments due to large numbers of false positives, caused by the background flora.