Researchers Study Listeria Colonisation in Poultry Plant

US - Poultry further processing plants are likely to become colonised with Listeria monocytogenes and raw product is one important source of this foodborne disease-causing organism, according to a new paper by Berrang and co-workers.
calendar icon 10 February 2010
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M.E. Berrang of USDA Agricultural Research Service, Russell Research Center and co-authors have published the results of their study into the colonisation of a new poultry further processing plant by L. monocytogenes. Their paper is published in Journal of Food Protection.

This study was undertaken to determine potential sources of Listeria monocytogenes in a newly constructed chicken further processing plant and document the eventual colonisation of the facility by this pathogen, explains Berrang and his co-authors.

To ascertain the colonisation status of the plant, floor drains were sampled after a production shift and again after a clean-up shift on roughly a monthly basis for 21 months.

Potential sources of L. monocytogenes to the plant included incoming raw meat, incoming fresh air and personnel. Nearby environment and community samples were also examined. All L. monocytogenes detected were subjected to DNA sequence-based sub-typing.

L. monocytogenes was not detected in the plant before the commencement of processing operations.

Within four months, several subtypes of L. monocytogenes were detected in floor drains, both before and after cleaning and sanitising operations. No L. monocytogenes was detected on filters for incoming air, samples associated with plant employees, or a nearby discount shopping centre.

One sub-type of L. monocytogenes was detected in a natural stream near the plant but this sub-type was never detected inside the plant.

Eight sub-types of L. monocytogenes were detected in raw meat staged for further processing; one of the raw meat subtypes was indistinguishable from a persistent drain sub-type recovered after cleaning on eight occasions in four different drains.

Poultry further processing plants are likely to become colonised with L. monocytogenes; raw product is an important source of the organism to the plant, concluded Berrang and co-authors.


Berrang, M.E., R.J. Meinersmann, J.F. Frank and S.R. Ladely. 2010. Colonization of a newly constructed commercial chicken further processing plant with Listeria monocytogenes. Journal of Food Protection, 73 (2): 286-291

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