Research report

​Review of current practices in the management of L. monocytogenes during smoked fish production in Scotland and N. England

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Rotariu, O., Thomas, D. J. I., Goodburn, K., Hutchison, M.L. and Strachan, N.J.C. (2014). Smoked salmon industry practices and their association with Listeria monocytogenes. Food Control. 35, 284-291.
Hutchison Scientific Ltd
Hutchison, M

The Food Standards Agency in Scotland wanted to review current practices in the management of Listeria monocytogenes utilised by manufacturers in the smoked fish sector. This was done with a view to developing information for Food Business Operators and Local Food Authorities on the key risk areas from farm to end-product for L. monocytogenes contamination and the monitoring and management of these.

A critical review of literature relating to Listeria monocytogenes contamination of raw and finished fish during the hot and cold smoking processes was undertaken to identify key production and processing practices that could potentially influence L. monocytogenes prevalence. A series of visits to fish farms and commercial smokers was also undertaken along with a survey of environmental health officers (EHOs).

From the literature it was identified that fish entering processing plants can have Listeria present on their skin surfaces, with prevalence rates being low, but variable. It was also identified that some L. monocytogenes biotypes can persistently colonise plant processing environments for and these plant resident biotypes are more likely to be isolated from the final products.
The survey of EHOs identified that their main concerns were related to plant cleaning and sanitation, the control of key hazard microorganisms, product characteristic monitoring, post process handling and shelf life determinations; both in terms of FBO practices and their own knowledge gaps. The survey also identified that EHOs felt there is a lack of understanding regarding HACCP, particularly in smaller businesses.

A number of key recommendations highlighting areas where guidance or additional information would be of benefit to industry and enforcement officials were made.

Project Code: FS425012

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