Growth of Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat “shrimp cocktail”: Risk assessment and possible preventive interventions

E. Tirloni*, M. Nauta, M. Vasconi, V. Di Pietro, C. Bernardi, S. Stella

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The present study investigated the presence, growth potential, and public health risk posed by Listeria monocytogenes in a ready-to-eat “shrimp cocktail”. The pathogen was detected in 4 out of the 104 samples, and there were no counts above the enumeration limit (1 Log colony-forming unit (CFU)/g); the product was a suitable substrate for pathogen growth owing to its chemical/physical properties. A stochastic quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA) was performed to estimate the expected number of invasive listeriosis cases caused by the consumption of 10,000 servings of the product on the last day of its shelf life, considering a population comprising healthy consumers, those susceptible, and transplant recipients. The model predicted no cases for this scenario. Uncertainties were included by considering alternative scenarios; even when considering an increased mean bacterial concentration (up to 3–4 Log CFU/g), no cases were estimated. Following a producer's demand, the exposure assessment model was also used to estimate the probability of the product exceeding the threshold of 2 log CFU/g during the shelf life. The possibility of Listeria growth in the product could not be avoided. Therefore, a modification of the production process was tested to re-classify the product as unsuitable for Listeria growth (EC Reg. 2073/2005). The shrimps were conditioned in three different organic acid solutions comprising: acetic acid (1500 ppm) (A); benzoic acid (1500 ppm) + acetic acid (500 ppm) + lactic acid (750 ppm) (BLA); and lactic acid (4500 ppm) + sodium acetate (2500 ppm) (LSA). Testing was conducted over various treatment durations (1 day–5 days). Treatment for 2 days in the LSA solution was selected based on efficacy, the absence of consumer-perceptible sensorial modifications, and the producers' production rate requirements. The concentration of L. monocytogenes decreased when the new process was applied, which confirmed the usefulness and effectiveness of the treatment relative to the traditional process. Thus, the product obtained by the modified production process did not support the growth of L. monocytogenes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108800
JournalInternational Journal of Food Microbiology
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Deli products
  • Growth potential
  • Organic acids
  • QMRA
  • Reformulation


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