Higher processing temperature may reduce listeria risk in smoked salmon

I’m a big fan of smoked salmon, especially the farmed kind – it’s more sustainable. The convenience and nutrients are hard to top – except maybe with a slice of tomato.

The problem with such refrigerated, ready-to-eat foods is listeria, the bacterium that’s everywhere and grows at refrigerator temperatures.

Last night, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Classic Smokehouse (2003) Inc. warned the public not to consume Classic Canadian Wild Sockeye Trims because the product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

The affected product, Classic Canadian Wild Sockeye Lox Trim, was sold in 454g vacuum packages bearing UPC 3000550008256 and PACKED ON dates from MA 02 (May 2, 2009) to JL 28 (July 28, 2009) inclusive.

This product has been distributed in British Columbia.

There have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of this product.

At least not this time.

Such listeria-related recalls are common, and why work continues to increase the safety of refrigerated RTE foods. A recent study from the Journal of Food Science, published by the Institute of Food Technologists, determined that smoking salmon at adequately high temperatures is a step in reducing the risk of Listeria monocytogenes in the fish.

Researchers from USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in Wyndmoor, PA, found greater inactivation rates of Listeria monocytogenes occurred in samples processed at higher temperatures and in samples containing higher concentrations of salt and smoke compound.  The inactivation rate increased tenfold when the temperature increased by 5° C, indicating that smoking temperature is a main factor affecting the inactivation of the pathogen.  In addition, salt and smoke compounds also contribute to the inactivation effect.

While such research continues, pregnant women should avoid refrigerated RTE foods like smoked salmon. Amy’s back on the smoked salmon, and this is her lunch for later today: smoked salmon and walnuts over spring mix, with olive oil and balsamic vinegar (left).

This entry was posted in Listeria, Salmonella and tagged , , by Douglas Powell. Bookmark the permalink.

About Douglas Powell

A former professor of food safety and the publisher of barfblog.com, Powell is passionate about food, has five daughters, and is an OK goaltender in pickup hockey. Download Doug’s CV here. Dr. Douglas Powell editor, barfblog.com retired professor, food safety 3/289 Annerley Rd Annerley, Queensland 4103 dpowell29@gmail.com 61478222221 I am based in Brisbane, Australia, 15 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time