Despite the efforts of food retailers and food-processing plant managers to maintain a clean, safe environment, strains of the deadly pathogen Listeria monocytogenes can persist for up to a year or longer, according to Cornell University food scientists in the latest issue of Journal of Food Protection (July 2004).
"This is disturbing because this points the finger at retail stores and some processors as a continuing source of food contamination," says Brian D. Sauders, a Cornell doctoral candidate in food science, who worked on the study with Martin Wiedmann, D.V.M., Cornell assistant professor of food science.
Sauders and Wiedmann examined specific strains of L. monocytogenes that had been found in 125 foods in 50 retail food stores and seven food-processing plants in New York state examined by inspectors of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. The inspectors found the bacteria during routine surveys, sanitary inspections and as a result of consumer complaints between 1997 and 2002.
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