Listeria monocytogenes is a foodborne pathogen that can cause listeriosis, an invasive infection in humans with a fatality rate of 20-30%. Listeriosis is a global public health concern, with an increasing incidence in Europe, especially among elderly persons. Cases of listeriosis are, for the most part, associated with ‘ready-to-eat’ foods, including deli meats, smoked fish, unpasteurised milk, soft cheeses, fresh-cut fruit and vegetables. Research on various biotechnological approaches for the control of L. monocytogenes in foods has attracted much attention in recent years, as consumers demand more natural ‘clean-label’ foods. Protective cultures and/or their microbial products (e.g. bacteriocins) have been investigated as potential controls of L. monocytogenes in various food systems and processes. More recently, bacteriophage technology has seen a revival of interest and a number of phage preparations, e.g. Listex P100 and Listshield, have been approved for use in the control of L. monocytogenes on ready-to-eat foods by the United States Food and Drug Administration and in the European Union. Their application offers a highly attractive option in Food Safety Management Systems, to aid in the management of this pathogen; however, debate continues as to whether such preparations should be used at all and whether they should be considered as processing aids or food additives. This review will assess the potential of using biotechnological approaches to control L. monocytogenes in ready-to-eat foods. While the use of such ‘natural’ controls in food should not replace proper controls and hygiene practices, there is undoubtedly a role for their strategic development and intelligent use in combating L. monocytogenes.
Keywords: Bacteriocins, bacteriophage, inactivation, control, foodborne pathogen, Listeria monocytogenes, listeriosis, protective cultures, natural, biopreservation, biocontrol, food, inhibition, biotechnology, ready-to-eat.