Aerobic plate counts and ATP levels correlate with Listeria monocytogenes detection in retail delis

Susan R. Hammons, Matthew J. Stasiewicz, Sherry Roof, Haley F. Oliver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Listeria monocytogenes is a foodborne pathogen that causes an estimated 1,591 cases of illness and 255 deaths annually in the United States, the majority of which are attributed to ready-to-eat deli meats processed in retail delis. Because retail delis distribute product directly to consumers, rapid methods to validate cleaning and sanitation are needed to improve retail food safety. This study investigated the relationships among ATP levels, standard aerobic plate count (APC), and L. monocytogenes presence in fully operational delis. Fifteen full-service delis were concurrently sampled for ATP, APC, and L. monocytogenes during preoperational hours once monthly for 3 months. Fifteen additional delis were recruited for 6 months of operational sampling (n = 30). A 1-log increase in APC was equivalent to a 3.3-fold increase in the odds of detecting L. monocytogenes (P < 0.001) and a 1.9-log increase in L monocytogenes population (P = 0.03). An ATP level increase of 1 log relative light unit correlated to a 0.22-log increase in APC (P < 0.001). A preoperational ATP level mean increase by 1 log relative light unit increased the odds of detecting L. monocytogenes concurrently fourfold. A 0.5-log increase in mean ATP level during preoperational sampling corresponded to a 2% increase in the predicted L. monocytogenes prevalence during operation (P < 0.01). Additionally, 10 statistically representative sites were identified and recommended for use in sanitation monitoring programs. Our data support the use of ATP as a rapid method to validate effective cleaning and sanitation to reduce L. monocytogenes in retail delis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)825-830
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Food Protection
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Microbiology


Dive into the research topics of 'Aerobic plate counts and ATP levels correlate with Listeria monocytogenes detection in retail delis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this