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Molecular methods to assess Listeria monocytogenes route of contamination in a dairy processing plant



Molecular methods to assess Listeria monocytogenes route of contamination in a dairy processing plant



International Journal of Food Microbiology 141(Suppl. 1): S156



In this study we investigated the occurrence of Listeria monocytogenes in a dairy processing plant during two sampling campaigns in 2007 and 2008. Samples represented by semifinished and finished cheeses, swabs from the equipment and brines from the salting step, were subjected to analysis by using traditional and molecular methods, represented mainly by quantitative PCR. Comparing the results obtained by the application of the two approaches used, it became evident how traditional microbiological analysis underestimated the presence of L. monocytogenes in the dairy plant. Especially samples of the brines and the equipment swabs were positive only with qPCR. For some equipment swabs it was possible to detect a load of 10(4)-10(5) cfu/cm(2), while the modified ISO method employed gave negative results both before and after the enrichment step. The evidences collected during the first sampling year, highlighting a heavy contamination of the brines and of the equipment, lead to the implementation of specific actions that decreased the contamination in these samples during the 2008 campaign. However, no reduction in the number of L. monocytogenes positive final products was observed, suggesting that a more strict control is necessary to avoid the presence of the pathogen. All the isolates of L. monocytogenes were able to attach to abiotic surfaces, and, interestingly, considering the results obtained from their molecular characterization it became evident how strains present in the brines, were genetically connected with isolates from the equipment and from the final product, suggesting a clear route of contamination of the pathogen in the dairy plant. This study underlines the necessity to use appropriate analytical tools, such as molecular methods, to fully understand the spread and persistence of L. monocytogenes in food producing companies.

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Accession: 054446575

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PMID: 20193970

DOI: 10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2010.02.001


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