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      Virulent bacteriophage for efficient biocontrol of Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat foods.

      Applied and Environmental Microbiology
      Bacteriolysis, Bacteriophages, growth & development, physiology, Colony Count, Microbial, Disinfection, methods, Food Microbiology, Humans, Listeria monocytogenes, virology, Microbial Viability, Temperature

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          Abstract

          Food-borne Listeria monocytogenes is a serious threat to human health, and new strategies to combat this opportunistic pathogen in foods are needed. Bacteriophages are natural enemies of bacteria and are suitable candidates for the environmentally friendly biocontrol of these pathogens. In a comprehensive set of experiments, we have evaluated the virulent, broad-host-range phages A511 and P100 for control of L. monocytogenes strains Scott A (serovar 4b) and WSLC 1001 (serovar 1/2a) in different ready-to-eat (RTE) foods known to frequently carry the pathogen. Food samples were spiked with bacteria (1 x 10(3) CFU/g), phage added thereafter (3 x 10(6) to 3 x 10(8) PFU/g), and samples stored at 6 degrees C for 6 days. In liquid foods, such as chocolate milk and mozzarella cheese brine, bacterial counts rapidly dropped below the level of direct detection. On solid foods (hot dogs, sliced turkey meat, smoked salmon, seafood, sliced cabbage, and lettuce leaves), phages could reduce bacterial counts by up to 5 log units. Variation of the experimental conditions (extended storage over 13 days or storage at 20 degrees C) yielded similar results. In general, the application of more phage particles (3 x 10(8) PFU/g) was more effective than lower doses. The added phages retained most of their infectivity during storage in foods of animal origin, whereas plant material caused inactivation by more than 1 log(10). In conclusion, our data demonstrate that virulent broad-host-range phages, such as A511 and P100, can be very effective for specific biocontrol of L. monocytogenes in contamination-sensitive RTE foods.

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