This study was undertaken to explore environmental sources of Listeria monocytogenes in a commercial chicken further processing facility and to compare the isolates obtained from this facility with others obtained from fully cooked product. In a survey conducted at the processing facility, 40 environmental sites (encompassing two production lines and representing areas in which raw and cooked products are processed) were cultured for L. monocytogenes. The resulting isolates were subjected to molecular subtyping by ribotyping, and these isolates were compared with 25 isolates collected by plant personnel from product contact surfaces and from fully cooked product. Eighty-nine environmental and product isolates were divided into 15 distinct ribogroups. Two ribogroups included isolates from fully cooked product; the members of these two ribogroups were subjected to further analysis by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, resulting in four clusters. L. monocytogenes isolates from fully cooked product produced on line 1 were found to be indistinguishable from isolates collected from (i) drains on the raw-product side of line 1 and (ii) the floor surface in the cooked-product area of line 1. L. monocytogenes isolates from fully cooked product from line 2 were found to be indistinguishable from isolates collected from (i) the spiral freezer exit conveyor on line 2, (ii) raw product contact surfaces on line 1, and (iii) drains in the cooked-product area of line 1. These data suggest that L. monocytogenes can colonize a poultry further processing facility and eventually be transferred to fully cooked product.

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