In this study, Listeria monocytogenes contamination in a cold-smoked fish processing plant in Osaka, Japan, was examined from 2002 to 2004. A total of 430 samples were collected and divided into five categories: raw fish, materials during processing, processing equipment, environment, and finished products. A total of 59 finished products were examined throughout this study. L. monocytogenes was isolated from four of these samples during summer and autumn but was not found during winter or spring. During the warmer seasons, L. monocytogenes was more prevalent on processing equipment, especially slicing machines (8 of 54 samples in summer and autumn versus 1 of 50 samples in winter and spring). L. monocytogenes was not detected on whole skins removed from 23 frozen raw fish. L. monocytogenes strains isolated from 56 samples were characterized by serotyping, pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, and three PCR-based methods. Seventy-seven L. monocytogenes strains were recognized as contaminants of the samples: 2 distinguishable strains were identified in each of 13 samples, 3 strains were identified in 2 samples, 5 strains were identified in 1 sample, and the other 40 strains were identified in 40 samples. Combining the results from these techniques, 77 strains were classified into 13 different types. Three of these types prevailed throughout the plant, and two of the three were also isolated from final products. The DNA subtype found in the product was also found on the slicing machines. Our findings suggest that the slicing machines at this plant were the source of the product contamination. Implementing an appropriate cleaning regime for the slicing machines was effective in preventing contamination.

This content is only available as a PDF.