ABSTRACT

Various methods exist for the enrichment and detection of Listeria spp. and Listeria monocytogenes from environmental samples. Procedures for the compositing of environmental samples are not as well defined. In this study, different enrichment procedures involving buffered Listeria enrichment broth (BLEB), University of Vermont medium (UVM), and Fraser broth (FB) were evaluated to determine the limits of detection (LODs) for L. monocytogenes from culture and from swabs of stainless steel and to assess the efficacy of composite sampling by wet (pooling of primary enrichments) and dry (pooling of swabs) procedures. For detection of cells in pure culture, the computed values for the LOD at 95% probability (LOD95) using a single-step BLEB or two-step UVM-FB enrichment were 0.33 and 0.49 CFU/225 mL enrichment, respectively. No significant differences in detection were observed for procedures using either two-step BLEB-FB or UVM-FB enrichments for swabs of stainless steel when L. monocytogenes was inoculated at 2 to 6 log CFU; the LOD95 values were 3.82 and 3.62 log CFU per 4-in2 area, respectively. Wet compositing of L. monocytogenes from culture with and without romaine lettuce wash resident microbiota was conducted using BLEB-FB and UVM-FB enrichment methods; both allowed detection of the pathogen at ratios of 1:1, 1:2, 1:4, and 1:7 (1 positive sample to x negative samples) with no loss in sensitivity. From swabs of stainless steel, L. monocytogenes was detected similarly for both wet and dry composites of up to eight samples (1:7) with romaine lettuce wash. However, the BLEB-FB method allowed significantly faster detection (after 24 h of FB incubation) in composites of 1:4 and 1:7 samples compared with the UVM-FB method under the conditions tested. The results of this study provide data to evaluate the efficacies of the different enrichment procedures and aid in assessing the use of wet and dry compositing of environmental samples for use as part of a Listeria control plan in food production and processing facilities.

HIGHLIGHTS
  • Two enrichment procedures for L. monocytogenes detection were evaluated.

  • Compositing was evaluated from culture and swabs of stainless steel.

  • L. monocytogenes was detected in wet and dry composite enrichments up to 1:7.

  • The enrichment medium influenced the speed of L. monocytogenes detection.

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