• Effectiveness of current hygiene practices on minimization of Listeria monocytogenes in different mushroom production‐related environments

      Pennone, Vincenzo; Dygico, Kenneth Lyonel; Coffey, Aidan; Gahan, Cormac G.M.; Grogan, Helen; McAuliffe, Olivia; Burgess, Catherine M.; Jordan, Kieran; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 14/F/881 (Wiley, 2020-05-20)
      Background: The commercial production of Agaricus bisporus is a three stage process: 1) production of compost, also called “substrate”; 2) production of casing soil; and 3) production of the mushrooms. Hygiene practices are undertaken at each stage: pasteurization of the substrate, hygiene practices applied during the production of casing soil, postharvest steam cookout, and disinfection at the mushroom production facilities. However, despite these measures, foodborne pathogens, including Listeria monocytogenes, are reported in the mushroom production environment. In this work, the presence of L. monocytogenes was evaluated before and after the application of hygiene practices at each stage of mushroom production with swabs, samples of substrate, casing, and spent mushroom growing substrates. Results: L. monocytogenes was not detected in any casing or substrate sample by enumeration according to BS EN ISO 11290-2:1998. Analysis of the substrate showed that L. monocytogenes was absent in 10 Phase II samples following pasteurization, but was then present in 40% of 10 Phase III samples. At the casing production facility, 31% of 59 samples were positive. Hygiene improvements were applied, and after four sampling occasions, 22% of 37 samples were positive, but no statistically significant difference was observed (p > .05). At mushroom production facilities, the steam cookout process inactivated L. monocytogenes in the spent growth substrate, but 13% of 15 floor swabs at Company 1 and 19% of 16 floor swabs at Company 2, taken after disinfection, were positive. Conclusion: These results showed the possibility of L. monocytogenes recontamination of Phase III substrate, cross-contamination at the casing production stage and possible survival after postharvest hygiene practices at the mushroom growing facilities. This information will support the development of targeted measures to minimize L. monocytogenes in the mushroom industry.
    • Inhibition of L. monocytogenes Biofilm Formation by the Amidase Domain of the Phage vB_LmoS_293 Endolysin

      Pennone, Vincenzo; Sanz-Gaitero, Marta; O'Connor, Paula; Coffey, Aidan; Jordan, Kieran; van Raaij, Mark J; McAuliffe, Olivia; Spanish Ministry of Science; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; et al. (MDPI, 2019-08-06)
      Listeria monocytogenes is a ubiquitous Gram-positive bacterium that is a major concern for food business operators because of its pathogenicity and ability to form biofilms in food production environments. Bacteriophages (phages) have been evaluated as biocontrol agents for L. monocytogenes in a number of studies and, indeed, certain phages have been approved for use as anti-listerial agents in food processing environments (ListShield and PhageGuard Listex). Endolysins are proteins produced by phages in the host cell. They cleave the peptidoglycan cell wall, thus allowing release of progeny phage into the environment. In this study, the amidase domain of the phage vB_LmoS_293 endolysin (293-amidase) was cloned and expressed in Escherichia. coli(E. coli). Muralytic activity at different concentrations, pH and temperature values, lytic spectrum and activity against biofilms was determined for the purified 293-amidase protein. The results showed activity on autoclaved cells at three different temperatures (20 °C, 37 °C and 50 °C), with a wider specificity (L. monocytogenes 473 and 3099, a serotype 4b and serogroup 1/2b-3b-7, respectively) compared to the phage itself, which targets only L. monocytogenes serotypes 4b and 4e. The protein also inhibits biofilm formation on abiotic surfaces. These results show the potential of using recombinant antimicrobial proteins against pathogens in the food production environment.
    • Prevalence and persistence of Listeria monocytogenes in premises and products of small food business operators in Northern Ireland

      Madden, Robert H; Hutchison, Mike; Jordan, Kieran; Pennone, Vincenzo; Gundogdu, Ozan; Corcionivoschi, Nicolae; SafeFood, The Food Safety Promotion Board; 04–2014 (Elsevier, 2017-12-14)
      Listeriosis is a foodborne disease, with a high mortality rate, that predominantly affects the elderly. Under European Union legislation, EC 2073/2005, food business operators are encouraged to undertake sampling to ensure that the food processing environment, and required to ensure that food products, are free of Listeria monocytogenes. To determine the prevalence of L. monocytogenes in smaller food processing facilities in Northern Ireland, 24 companies submitted six processing environment swabs and two food samples every two months for eighteen months (July 2015 to November 2016) for L. monocytogenes examination. The prevalence of L. monocytogenes was 4.6% in food samples, and 6.3% in processing environment swabs. Over the duration of the study, 96 isolates of L. monocytogenes were obtained, one from each positive sample, except for two meat samples that had >100 cfu/g, where two isolates were obtained from each sample. No seasonality in occurrence of L. monocytogenes was seen for food isolates but significantly higher numbers of positive processing environment swabs were found in the warmer months of May, July and September (p = .007). Pulsed Field Gel Electrophoresis (PFGE) analysis revealed the presence of 27 pulsotypes; 9 pulsotypes were shared between different facilities and 9 were persistent. Based on a Combase predictive growth model, 77.5% (n = 130) of the foods tested were predicted to support the growth of L. monocytogenes. All of the isolates carried the pathogenicity genes inlA and actA and 71.4% carried qacH, which confers resistance to quaternary ammonium compounds which are frequently used in sanitizers. Whole genome sequencing of the isolates allowed multi-locus sequence typing to be undertaken. The data indicated that the sequence types identified included those with disease-causing ability, highlighting the disease-causing potential of the isolates.