Listeria monocytogenes in RTE foods marketed in Italy: prevalence and automated EcoRI ribotyping of the isolates.Int J Food Microbiol. 2009 Feb 15; 129(2):166-73.IJ
The aims of the present study were: (a) to investigate the prevalence and the enumeration of Listeria monocytogenes in 200 samples of ready to eat (RTE) foods of animal and vegetal origin collected from different outlets and processing plants in Sardinia; (b) to characterize the isolates by phenotypical and molecular methods; (c) to analyze a subset of 42 L. monocytogenes by automated EcoRI ribotyping in order to predict the strain's potential virulence for humans. The strains were isolated from: smoked fish products, cooked marinated products, meat products and pre-packaged mixed vegetable salads. Of the samples tested, 22% were positive for Listeria spp. The prevalence of L. monocytogenes was 9.5%, while the level of L. monocytogenes in the positive samples was <10 cfu/g in 94.7% of cases. EcoRI ribotyping differentiated the isolates into 16 distinct ribotypes (similarity>93%), belonging to 17 different DuPont Identification Library Codes (DUP-IDs) clones. The Simpson's numerical index of discrimination was 0.911. Cluster analysis pointed out a high similarity among strains isolated from meat, fish, and vegetables of different origin. These results confirmed the existence of a widespread population of L. monocytogenes, characterized by highly related strains existing in different geographical areas. 65% of these strains belonged to lineage II (serotypes 1/2a and 1/2c), subtypes known to be associated with sporadic human listeriosis outbreaks. The remaining 35% of the isolates (serotypes 1/2b, 3b and 4b) were allocated to lineage I and belong to distinct clonal groups (DUP-ID 1038 and 1042), which again have been associated with several outbreaks of human listeriosis. Neither atypical profiles nor lineage III strains were found. EcoRI ribotyping was confirmed as a rapid and reliable method for L. monocytogenes typing, providing useful data for epidemiologic and clonality surveys of L. monocytogenes strains isolated from RTE foods.