Strategies for the control of pathogens and use of indicator bacteria in the fresh meat supply chain

Project Details


Main research question/goal
Slaughterhouses and cutting plants are still confronted with the foodborne pathogens Salmonella spp. and Listeria monocytogenes in the production environment, on carcasses and on cuts of meat. The introduction, persistence and variable contamination sources and routes of these pathogens are complex. Therefore, the aim of this research is to create strategies for better control of the priority pathogens in slaughterhouses and cutting plants based on a thorough scientific study:  Salmonella in poultry and pork, and Listeria monocytogenes in beef and pork. This work focuses on identifying the critical control points, contamination sources and routes, persistence and growth of these pathogens in the fresh meat supply chain.

Research approach
First, detailed sampling will be done in slaughterhouses and cutting plants on carcasses, cuts of meat and in the production environment, coupled with the characterization of pathogens by molecular typing. The possible outgrowth of Listeria monocytogenes on different types of fresh meat is also investigated. Challenge tests will be performed in order to correlate the outgrowth with storage- , time- and temperature conditions used in the fresh meat supply chain. The possibilities of using indicator bacteria to aid the control of foodborne pathogens in the fresh meat chain are also taken into consideration.

The expected outcome is that adjustments made by the participating companies during the course of the research investigations may lead to better control of Salmonella or Listeria monocytogenes. Those adjustments will be based on company-specific measurements, case studies and interim results. In concrete terms, preparation of action plans, changes in hygiene, changes in the production process, adjustments to the applied cleaning and disinfection methods, development of management plans, and adjustments in the cold supply chain might be possible. In collaboration with the relevant associations, the results will be disseminated within a broader audience through workshops, training courses, seminars and publications. The ultimate goal is a better control of Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes for all actors in the fresh meat supply chain.
Effective start/end date1/01/1730/06/20