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Outbreaks of listeriosis associated with deli meats and cheese: an overview

Department of Food & Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, FI-00014, Finland

Topical Section: Microbial pollution and food safety

Microbial pollution of foods by undesirable microorganisms is a global food safety issue. One of such undesirable microorganism is the psychrotrophic, pathogenic specie of Listeria—Listeria monocytogenes that survives at low temperature. The source of contamination of this microbe into foods can be many including the food processing facilities due to improper sanitation procedures. The review of the literature on this important topic shows there are increasing concerns as regards contamination from Listeria in foods leading to many cases of listeriosis disease and food recalls. Ready-to-eat products, such as delicatessen (deli) meats and soft cheeses have repeatedly been identified by foodborne disease control programs as sources of outbreaks and products that put humans at risk for listeriosis. Although, most listeriosis cases tend to be sporadic in occurrence, outbreaks do occur frequently. Due to the global phenomenon of outbreaks associated with Listeria in deli meats and cheese, it requires an urgent attention from national and international authorities through rigorous procedures for its identification, surveillance procedures that can bring more awareness to the general public. There is also a need for more reports on the cases of Listeria particularly in developing countries, the standardization of identification procedures, and an improvement on national control programs by adequate surveillance.
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