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Meat Sci. 2010 Oct;86(2):479-85. doi: 10.1016/j.meatsci.2010.05.038. Epub 2010 May 25.

Evaluation of hygiene practices and microbiological quality of cooked meat products during slicing and handling at retail.

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  • 1Departamento de Bromatología y Tecnología de los Alimentos, Universidad de Córdoba, Campus Rabanales, Edif. Darwin-Anexo, 1014 Córdoba, Spain.


Cooked meat ready-to-eat products are recognized to be contaminated during slicing which, in the last years, has been associated with several outbreaks. This work aimed to find out possible relation between the hygiene practice taking place at retail point during slicing of cooked meat products in small and medium-sized establishments (SMEs) and large-sized establishments (LEs) and the microbiological quality of sliced cooked meat products. For that, a checklist was drawn up and filled in based on scoring handling practice during slicing in different establishments in Cordoba (Southern Spain). In addition, sliced cooked meats were analyzed for different microbiological indicators and investigated for the presence of Listeria spp. and Listeria monocytogenes. Results indicated that SMEs showed a more deficient handling practices compared to LEs. In spite of these differences, microbiological counts indicated similar microbiological quality in cooked meat samples for both types of establishments. On the other hand, Listeria monocytogenes and Listeria inocua were isolated from 7.35% (5/68) and 8.82% (6/68) of analyzed samples, respectively. Positive samples for Listeria spp. were found in establishments which showed acceptable hygiene levels, though contamination could be associated to the lack of exclusiveness of slicers at retail points. Moreover, Listeria spp presence could not be statistically linked to any microbiological parameters; however, it was observed that seasonality influenced significantly (P<0.05) L. monocytogenes presence, being all samples found during warm season (5/5). As a conclusion, results suggested that more effort should be made to adequately educate handlers in food hygiene practices, focused specially on SMEs.

Copyright (c) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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