The heat resistance data on Listeria monocytogenes in culture media and foods are summarized. Most heat resistance data for foods have been obtained in dairy, meat, poultry, and egg products. Limited data have been published on seafood, fruits, and vegetables. The methodologies employed have evolved over time; hence data from earlier experiments are not directly comparable to more recent studies. Many factors influence the heat resistance of L. monocytogenes. Variation exists among different strains in their ability to withstand heat treatment. In addition, heat resistance is influenced by age of the culture, growth conditions, recovery media, and characteristics of foods such as salt content, aw, acidity, and the presence of other inhibitors. Listeriae are more heat resistant than most other nonspore-forming foodborne pathogens, and thus, processing recommendations based on data from experiments with Salmonella spp. or pathogenic Escherichia coli may not be sufficient to eliminate similar numbers of L. monocytogenes. The data provided in this review may prove useful for food processors in determining appropriate times and temperatures for producing foods free of vegetative pathogens.

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Author notes

Present address: The Pillsbury Company, 737 Pelham Boulevard, St. Paul, MN 55114.

Present address: Kraft Foods, Inc., 555 South Broadway, Tarrytown, NY 10591.

§Present address: 3210 East Canary, Apt. 5, Appleton, WI 54915.