This study focused on the ecology of Listeria monocytogenes in a fish farm by following the changes in its occurrence in different types of samples for a three year period. In addition, L. monocytogenes isolates from different seafood industry areas were compared with pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) typing to discover possible associations between primary production, further processing and final products. Weather conditions were found to have a strong influence on the probability of finding Listeria spp. in a fish farm environment. The number of samples contaminated with Listeria spp. was typically bigger after rainy periods. Brook and river waters as well as other runoff waters seemed to be the main contamination source at the farm studied. The farmed fish originally found to carry L. monocytogenes become gradually Listeria free. The time needed for the purification of the fish was several months. The sea bottom soil samples were the ones that preserved the L. monocytogenes contamination the longest time. It can be stated that the fish and fish farm equipment studied did not spread listeria contamination. On the contrary, they were found to suffer from listeria contamination coming from outside sources like the brook water. There was a wide range of different L. monocytogenes PFGE-pulsotypes (30) found at 15 Finnish fish farms and fish processing factories. L. monocytogenes isolates from the final products often belonged to the same pulsotypes as did the isolates from the processing environment as well as from the raw fish. This suggests that, in addition to the fish processing factory environment, the fish raw materials are important sources of L. monocytogenes contamination in final products.
- Listeria monocytogenes