Research – Occurrence of Listeria monocytogenes in Counter-Sliced Turkey Meat Samples from Independent Delis in New York City

Journal of Food Protection

Research suggests that small and independent delis are less likely to follow proper sanitation procedures, including slicer inspection, which could lead to a higher likelihood of these delis being a reservoir for Listeria monocytogenes growth and cross-contamination.    This study was undertaken to determine the incidence of L. monocytogenes in counter-sliced turkey deli meat obtained from independent delis in an urban city. Turkey deli meat, counter-sliced on site, was collected from 118 independent delis in New York City. The samples were analyzed for L. monocytogenes using USDA MLG methodology for isolation and confirmation.   The selection criteria for delis included using the city’s restaurant inspection and grading system. Two samples, from separate delis, were confirmed positive for L. monocytogenes (1.69%). Analysis of the genomic sequences of one of the samples revealed a close match to a cluster of 6 clinical isolates, which were part of an ongoing multi-state listeriosis outbreak spanning 4 different states.   The sequence of the second isolate matched a clinical isolate in a neighboring state. Both isolates were obtained from delis that did not have the top inspection grade. Although a snapshot of one urban area, this study is the first report on the current incidence of L. monocytogenes on counter-sliced deli meat from independent deli establishments. This study suggests that these delis can potentially serve as sources of L. monocytogenes contamination or contribute to downstream foodborne listeriosis. Information provided by city inspection and grading systems, in addition to the letter grade, may serve as a tool to identify delis with potential L. monocytogenes contamination issues and serve as a basis for product and environmental sampling by public health authorities.

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