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J Food Prot. 2010 Apr;73(4):620-30.

Quantitative risk assessment of listeriosis-associated deaths due to Listeria monocytogenes contamination of deli meats originating from manufacture and retail.

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  • 1Department of Population Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA.


The objective of this study was to estimate the relative risk of listeriosis-associated deaths attributable to Listeria monocytogenes contamination in ham and turkey formulated without and with growth inhibitors (GIs). Two contamination scenarios were investigated: (i) prepackaged deli meats with contamination originating solely from manufacture at a frequency of 0.4% (based on reported data) and (ii) retail-sliced deli meats with contamination originating solely from retail at a frequency of 2.3% (based on reported data). Using a manufacture-to-consumption risk assessment with product-specific growth kinetic parameters (i.e., lag phase and exponential growth rate), reformulation with GIs was estimated to reduce human listeriosis deaths linked to ham and turkey by 2.8- and 9-fold, respectively, when contamination originated at manufacture and by 1.9- and 2.8-fold, respectively, for products contaminated at retail. Contamination originating at retail was estimated to account for 76 and 63% of listeriosis deaths caused by ham and turkey, respectively, when all products were formulated without GIs and for 83 and 84% of listeriosis deaths caused by ham and turkey, respectively, when all products were formulated with GIs. Sensitivity analyses indicated that storage temperature was the most important factor affecting the estimation of per annum relative risk. Scenario analyses suggested that reducing storage temperature in home refrigerators to consistently below 7 degrees C would greatly reduce the risk of human listeriosis deaths, whereas reducing storage time appeared to be less effective. Overall, our data indicate a critical need for further development and implementation of effective control strategies to reduce L. monocytogenes contamination at the retail level.

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