The prevalence of Listeria spp. in the skins of turkey wings, legs (drumsticks), and tails was studied first. During three trips to local supermarkets we purchased and analyzed 180 packages representing two national brands. Overall, total Listeria spp., L. monocytogenes, L. welshimeri, and L. innocua were present in 32.2, 15.0, 15.6, and 1.7% of the packages. Listeria spp. were present in 23.3 and 41.1% of the products of Company A and B, respectively. The corresponding figures for L. monocytogenes were 12.2 and 17.8% and for L. welshimeri, 11.1 and 20.0%. The overall prevalence of Listeria spp. on wings, legs, and tails was 45.0, 28.5, and 23.3%, respectively. The corresponding numbers for L. monocytogenes were 20.0, 13.3, 11.7%. Next, we determined the presence of Listeria spp. in 10 locations and products collected from a slaughterhouse of Company A during three visits. A total of 225 samples were analyzed. No Listeria spp. were isolated from 30 feather samples (5g composite samples from 10 birds), 15 scalding tank water overflow samples (25 ml), 30 samples of neck skin (149 to 183 cm2), 30 whole liver and 30 heart samples after chilling, and 30 samples of cecum and large intestine content (1g). Listeria spp. were present in 13.4, 6.7, 33.3, and 26.7% of 15 feather picker drip water (25 ml), 15 chiller water overflow (25 ml), 15 recycling water for cleaning gutters (25 ml), and in 15 of mechanically deboned meat (25 g) samples, respectively. The prevalence of Listeria spp. in wings, legs, and tails increased through processing and distribution. The prevalence immediately after chilling, after packaging and at the retail level was 4.4, 13.3, and 23.3%. No Listeria spp. was isolated from 30 livers after chilling and 30 liver packages ready to go to the market. The prevalence of Listeria spp. on the hands and gloves of the persons hanging birds after chilling, cutting carcasses, and packaging parts was 16.7, 33.3, and 40.0%, respectively. Overall, the study demonstrated the high prevalence of Listeria spp. and specifically L. monocytogenes in turkey products. Improvements and innovations at the slaughterhouse level may effectively reduce final product contamination with Listeria.

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