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J Food Prot. 2007 Jun;70(6):1507-12.

Low prevalence of Listeria monocytogenes in foods from Italy.

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Experimental Zooprophylactic Institute of Apulia and Basilicata, V. della Tecnica 23, 75100 Matera.


Listeria monocytogenes is an important foodborne pathogen that causes gastrointestinal disorders, and, especially in immunocompromised people, serious extraintestinal diseases, such as septicemia and meningitis, as well as abortion in pregnant women. Many foods, from both plant and animal origin, have been involved in listeriosis outbreaks. This article reports the results of a 12-year survey (1993 through 2004) on the presence of L. monocytogenes in several kinds of food marketed in Italy. Of 5,788 analyzed samples, 121 (2.1%) were contaminated with L. monocytogenes. The highest prevalence was found in smoked salmon (10.6%) and in poultry meat samples (8.5%) and the lowest in red meat (0.3%). L. monocytogenes was not found in 154 samples of fresh seafood products. Fifty-two isolates were also serotyped by the agglutination method. The most common serotypes detected in the 52 strains tested were 1/2a (36.5%), followed by 1/2c (32.8%), 1/2b (13.5%), 4b (11.5%), 3a (3.8%), and 3b (1.9%). The results of the present study showed low levels of L. monocytogenes in the analyzed samples. A total of 61.5% of the 52 L. monocytogenes strains analyzed belonged to serotypes 1/2a, 1/2b, and 4b, namely the serovars that are most commonly involved in extraintestinal human listeriosis outbreaks. In the ready-to-eat samples, these three serotypes were 40.0% (1/2a), 17.1% (1/2b), and 14.3% (4b). This finding highlights the need to implement strict hygienic measures during the production, distribution, and sale of foods to reduce the risk of foodborne listeriosis in humans to an acceptable level.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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