Listeria monocytogenes is a food-borne pathogen often associated with ready-to-eat (RTE) food products. Many antimicrobial compounds have been evaluated in RTE meats. However, the search for optimum antimicrobial treatments is ongoing. The present study developed a rapid, non-destructive preliminary screening tool for large-scale evaluation of antimicrobials utilizing a bioluminescent L. monocytogenes with a model meat system. Miniature hams were produced, surface treated with antimicrobials nisin (at 0–100 ppm) and potassium lactate sodium diacetate (at 0–3.5%) and inoculated with bioluminescent L. monocytogenes. A strong correlation (r = 0.91) was found between log scale relative light units (log RLU, ranging from 0.00 to 3.35) read directly from the ham surface and endpoint enumeration on selective agar (log colony forming units (CFU)/g, ranging from 4.7 to 8.3) when the hams were inoculated with 6 log CFU/g, treated with antimicrobials, and L. monocytogenes were allowed to grow over a 12 d refrigerated shelf life at 4 °C. Then, a threshold of 1 log RLU emitted from a ham surface was determined to separate antimicrobial treatments that allowed more than 2 log CFU/g growth of L. monocytogenes (from 6 log CFU/g inoculation to 8 log CFU/g after 12 d). The proposed threshold was utilized in a luminescent screening of antimicrobials with days-to-detect growth monitoring of luminescent L. monocytogenes. Significantly different (p < 0.05) plate counts were found in antimicrobial treated hams that had reached a 1 log RLU increase (8.1–8.5 log(CFU/g)) and the hams that did not reach the proposed light threshold (5.3–7.5 log(CFU/g)). This confirms the potential use of the proposed light threshold as a qualitative tool to screen antimicrobials with less than or greater than a 2 log CFU/g increase. This screening tool can be used to prioritize novel antimicrobials targeting L. monocytogenes, alone or in combination, for future validation.
- Listeria monocytogenes
- ready-to-eat meat products