Analysis of the baseline survey on the prevalence of <em>Listeria monocytogenes</em> in certain ready-to-eat foods in the EU, 2010-2011 Part A: <em>Listeria monocytogenes</em> prevalence estimates
A European Union-wide baseline survey on Listeria monocytogenes was carried out in 2010 and 2011 with the aim of estimating the European Union level prevalence of Listeria monocytogenes in certain ready-to-eat foods at retail. A total of 3 053 batches of packaged (not frozen) hot or cold smoked or gravad fish, 3 530 packaged heat-treated meat products and 3 452 soft or semi-soft cheeses were sampled from 3 632 retail outlets in 26 European Union Member States and one country not belonging to the European Union. The fish batch samples were analysed on arrival at the laboratory as well as at the end of shelf-life, whereas the meat products and the cheese samples were analysed at the end of shelf-life. All 13 088 food samples were examined for the presence of Listeria monocytogenes, in addition to the determination of the Listeria monocytogenes counts. The prevalence across the entire European Union in fish samples at the time of sampling was 10.4 % and at the end of shelf-life was 10.3 %, while for meat and cheese samples at the end of shelf-life these prevalences were 2.07 % and 0.47 %, respectively. The European Union level proportion of samples with a Listeria monocytogenes count exceeding the level of 100 cfu/g at the end of shelf-life was 1.7 %, 0.43 % and 0.06 % for fish, meat and cheese samples, respectively, while for fish at the time of sampling it was 1 %. Summaries of the counts of Listeria monocytogenes in the examined samples are also presented.