Listeria monocytogenes in the Irish dairy farm environment

Edward Fox, Tom O'Mahony, Marie Clancy, Rita Dempsey, Martina O'Brien, Kieran Jordan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

101 Citations (Scopus)


Listeria monocytogenes is a potentially lethal foodborne pathogen commonly found in the environment. European Union hygiene legislation places responsibility for safety on primary production facilities, including farms, as part of a policy to introduce traceability throughout the food chain. This study aimed to determine the occurrence of L. monocytogenes in the Irish dairy farm environment and in particular the milking facility. Two hundred ninety-eight environmental samples were collected from 16 farms in the southern region of Ireland. A number of farms within the group supply raw milk to the unpasteurized milk cheese industry. The samples taken included cow feces, milk, silage, soil, water, etc. Samples were enriched in Listeria enrichment broth and incubated for 48 h, followed by plating on chromogenic agar Listeria Ottavani & Agosti and further incubation of the plates for 24 to 48 h. Presumptive L. monocytogenes isolates were purified and confirmed by PCR targeting the hly gene. Overall, 19% of the samples (57 of 298) were positive for L. monocytogenes. These were serotyped using conventional and PCR methods; serotypes 1/2a, 1/2b, and 4b made up 78% of the typeable isolates. A correlation was found between the level of hygiene standards on the farm and the occurrence of L. monocytogenes. There was little difference in the occurrence of L. monocytogenes between farms supplying milk to the unpasteurized milk cheese industry and those supplying milk for processing. This study demonstrates the prevalence of L. monocytogenes in the dairy farm environment and the need for good hygiene practices to prevent its entry into the food chain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1450-1456
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Food Protection
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2009
Externally publishedYes


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