Management of microbiological safety of ready-to-eat meat products by mathematical modelling: Listeria monocytogenes as an example.

TítuloManagement of microbiological safety of ready-to-eat meat products by mathematical modelling: Listeria monocytogenes as an example.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsCarrasco, E, Valero, A, Pérez-Rodríguez, F, García-Gimeno, RM, Zurera, G
JournalInt J Food Microbiol
Date Published2007 Mar 10
Palabras claveAnimals, Colony Count, Microbial, Consumer Product Safety, Food Handling, Humans, Kinetics, Listeria monocytogenes, Mathematics, Meat Products, Models, Biological, Swine, Time Factors

The recent Commission Regulation (EC) No 2073/2005 establishes microbiological criteria in foods. For the pathogen Listeria monocytogenes in the category ready-to-eat foods able to support its growth, other than those intended for infants and for special medical purposes, two different microbiological criteria are proposed: (i) L. monocytogenes levels should be <100 cfu/g throughout the shelf-life of the product, (ii) absence in 25 g of the product at the stage before the food has left the immediate control of the food business operator, who has produced it. The application of either the first or the second of these criteria depends on whether or not the manufacturer is able to demonstrate that the level of L. monocytogenes in the food product will not exceed 100 cfu/g throughout its shelf-life. This demonstration should be based on physico-chemical characteristics of the target product and consultation of scientific literature, and, when necessary, on quantitative models and/or challenge tests. Once the characteristics of the product as well as scientific literature show that the pathogen has potential to grow on a specific food commodity, it seems adequate to use quantitative models and/or perform challenge tests to study the extent to which L. monocytogenes could grow. In this study, we aim to illustrate with an example in cooked ham the application of quantitative models as a tool to manage the compliance with these criteria. Two approaches were considered: deterministic and probabilistic, in three different commercial brands (A, B, and C). The deterministic approach showed that the limit 100 cfu/g was exceeded largely at the end of the shelf-life of all three; however, when reducing the storage time, the level of L. monocytogenes remained below 100 cfu/g in B. The probabilistic approach demonstrated very low percentiles corresponding to 100 cfu/g; when reducing the storage time, percentiles for three products increased, especially in products B and C (from 4.92% to 75.90%, and from 0.90% to 73.90%, respectively). This study shows how different storage times influence the level of L. monocytogenes at the end of the shelf-life of cooked ham, and, depending on the level reached, the microbiological criterion applied should be different, as stated above. Beside this, the choice of either point-estimate or probabilistic approach should be determined by the competent sanitary authority, and, in case of selecting the second approach, a certain percentile for the level 100 cfu/g should be established.

Alternate JournalInt. J. Food Microbiol.