Prevalence of Listeria monocytogenes in 13 dried sausage processing plants and their products

D Thévenot, M L Delignette-Muller, S Christieans, C Vernozy-Rozand
International Journal of Food Microbiology 2005 June 25, 102 (1): 85-94
The aims of the present study were: (i) to investigate the occurrence of Listeria monocytogenes in dried sausage processing plants on surfaces before and during processing, (ii) to study the contamination in meat and sausages at different stages of maturation, (iii) to assess the distribution of L. monocytogenes in the different plants and products studied. Thirteen dried sausage processing plants were sampled at two different times of the working day. The studies were repeated twice to evaluate the persistence of the pathogen. A total of 1029 samples were collected. Among swabbed samples, 15% were positive before the beginning of the working day and 47.3% during working day. Results showed that effectiveness of cleaning and disinfecting operations could be linked with the complexity of processing lines and machines used. The presence of L. monocytogenes in mixed meat amounted to 71.6% of the collected samples. A decrease of the contamination rate in dry sausage was noted, particularly during the drying stage. Nevertheless 3 sausages studied presented a low contamination rate (<3 cfu/g) when ready for consumption. A total of 996 strains of L. monocytogenes were characterised by biochemical tests and serotyping. A majority of isolates were 1/2a (49.5%), 1/2c (19.5%) and 1/2b (13%) strains. A high heterogeneity of serotypes was observed in all plants, raw meat and in sausages during maturation.

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