Institute of Environmental Science and Research

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Microbiological survey of packaged ready-to-eat red meats at retail in New Zealand

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posted on 2019-04-15, 01:23 authored by Lucia Rivas, Beverley Horn, Roger Cook, Marion Castle
A microbiological survey was undertaken on packaged ready-to-eat red meats available at retail in New Zealand. A total of 1,485 samples (297 lots of five samples each) were collected according to a sampling plan based on market share and regulatory regimes (Animal Products Act 1999 and Food Act 1981) and were tested against the microbiological limits specified in Food Standards Code (FSC) 1.6.1 applicable at the time of sampling. Each lot was tested as a composite for the presence or absence of Salmonella spp., coagulase-producing staphylococci, Listeria monocytogenes, and other Listeria spp. at the end of the manufacturer's stated shelf life. Individual samples within a positive lot were subsequently enumerated for L. monocytogenes. None of the samples contained Salmonella spp. or had coagulase-producing staphylococci counts above the acceptable level specified in FSC 1.6.1 (. 100 CFU/g). Data showed that 93.6% (278 of 297 lots) of ready-to-eat red meat complied with the FSC 1.6.1 criteria applicable at the time of the survey. The failure of 19 lots (6.4%) was due to the presence of L. monocytogenes from product obtained from 8 of 33 producers tested. Thirteen samples of 95 positive samples were found to contain between 50 and 500 CFU/g L. monocytogenes, but all of these samples were manufactured by the same operator. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis typing of all of the L. monocytogenes isolates obtained from the survey identified 12 different pulsotypes. Different pulsotypes were often identified in samples from the same operator sampled on separate occasions. A total of 46 lots (15.5%) contained Listeria spp. (including L. monocytogenes). The detection of Listeria in samples may highlight the existence of problems in operator processing and/or packaging processes and suggests that improvements in good hygienic practice and implementation of more effective risk mitigation strategies are needed.


Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE)


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