<OL> <LI> Quantify the degree fo L. monocytogenes transfer during deli slicing of cured ham based on slicer blade composition, blade surface roughness, product temperature and product composition<LI> Characterize the prevalence and levels of L. monocytogenes in deli-sliced meats and the likelihood and mechanism of cross-contamination occurring during deli slicing due to specific food service handling behaviors<LI> Develop a compartmental mechanistic mathematical risk model of L. monocytogenes associated with the deli slicing process, including cross-contamination<LI> Use the model to identify candidate risk mitigation strategies <LI> Develop educational and outreach strategies, including the development of specific risk communication messages, targeting deli slicing machine operators to reduce the risk of contamination and growth of L. monocytogenes.
APPROACH: The proposed work will involve cooperative research between the MFS and Michigan State University (MSU). Using a combination of laboratory-based studies, mathematical modeling, and communication/education programs, specific data gaps will be filled for the likelihood of L. monocytogenes contamination during the slicing of ready-to-eat meats. These data will be used to revise an existing L. monocytogenes risk assessment targeted at the retail/home handling phase of the farm-to-fork continuum. Subsequent sensitivity and what-if scenario analysis will identify critical variables impacting risk. In response to these findings, risk communication and education strategies/guidelines for consumers and deli workers will be developed.