Deli meat was ranked as the highest-risk ready-to-eat food vehicle of Listeria monocytogenes within the 2003 U.S. Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service risk assessment. The comparative risk of L. monocytogenes in retail-sliced versus prepackaged deli meats was evaluated with a modified version of this model. Other research has found that retail-sliced deli meats have both higher prevalence and levels of L. monocytogenes than have product sliced and packaged at the manufacturer level. The updated risk assessment model considered slicing location as well as the use of growth inhibitors. The per annum comparative risk ratio for the number of deaths from retail-sliced versus prepackaged deli meats was found to be 4.89, and the per-serving comparative risk ratio was 4.27. There was a significant interaction between the use of growth inhibitors and slicing location. Almost 70% of the estimated deaths occurred from retail-sliced product that did not possess a growth inhibitor. A sensitivity analysis, assessing the effect of the model's consumer storage time and shelf life assumptions, found that even if retail-sliced deli meats were stored for a quarter of the time prepackaged deli meats were stored, retail-sliced product is 1.7 times more likely to result in death from listeriosis. Sensitivity analysis also showed that the shelf life assumption had little effect on the comparative risk ratio.

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