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A UK-Wide Microbiological Survey of Ready-to-Eat Cooked Sliced Meats and Pâtés at Retail with Particular Reference to the Presence of Listeria Monocytogenes


Between March and September 2007, 1,691 samples of ready-to-eat (RTE) cooked sliced meat (of which 1,686 samples were acceptable for testing) and 1,651 RTE pâté products (of which 1,648 were acceptable for testing) were randomly collected from 1,000 retail premises throughout the United Kingdom. The samples were tested for the presence of Listeria spp. and Listeria monocytogenes and a range of indicator organisms.
Information for this survey and investigations of RTE foods for Listeria contamination will be used to build up a representative picture of the prevalence of L. monocytogenes contamination in foods across the UK.

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Results: <BR> The key findings were that:<UL> <LI>
45 (2.82%) cooked sliced meat and 12 (0.82%) pâté samples contained Listeria spp. The majority of the Listeria species detected were L. monocytogenes.
<LI> 21 (1.53%) cooked sliced meat and 4 (0.32%) pâté samples contained L. monocytogenes all of which were within legislative limits.
<LI> In RTE cooked sliced meats L. monocytogenes was found in 1.67% of beef, 1.84% of pork, 0.75% in poultry and 0.87% of mixed meats tested.
<LI> In pate L. monocytogenes was significantly more prevalent in seafood (3.66%) pâté than meat (0.06%) and vegetarian (0.00%) pâté (p<0.001).
<LI> Campylobacter spp., Salmonella spp., Escherichia coli O157 and Escherichia coli were not detected in any of the cooked sliced meat and pâté samples tested.
<LI> Staphylococcus aureus was detected in 3 (0.18%) cooked sliced meat and 2 (0.12%) pâté samples.
<LI> Enterobacteriaceae was detected in 178 (11.56%) cooked sliced meat and 102 (6.12%) pâté samples. Enterobacteriaceae levels in cooked sliced meat ranged from 10 to 2.9x105 cfu/g and 10 to 1.4x105 cfu/g in pâté. </UL>

<P>Find more about this project and other FSA food safety-related projects at the <a href="; target="_blank">Food Standards Agency Research webpage</a>.

ALcontrol Laboratories
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