Date of Conferral
Dr. Kourtney Nieves
Since 1987, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has implemented a zero-tolerance policy for Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) in ready-to-eat (RTE) meat and poultry products, which culminated with the implementation of the Listeria rule in 2003. While researchers have extensively examined human listeriosis and its causative agent, Lm, there remained a significant gap in the current literature regarding how, singly or in combination, establishment size, RTE product type, Listeria alternative used, and FSIS district of production predict compliance with the Listeria rule. Therefore, the purpose of this quantitative study was to investigate the relationship between establishment size, RTE product type, Listeria alternative used, FSIS district of production, and compliance with the Listeria rule. The deterrence theory was used to explain the relationships and associations between variables. Archival Lm sampling data collected between 2012 and 2015 by FSIS was used to analyze the relationships. Chi-square tests showed no significant statistical relationship between establishment size, Listeria alternative used, FSIS district, and compliance, but they did show a significant association between compliance, RTE salt-cured products, and fully cooked products. Additionally, logistic regression analysis showed that the odds of an Lm-positive sample was higher for salt-cured products than for fully-cooked products. This study's findings indicate the need for a reevaluation of FSIS Listeria prevention policy, with a focus on salt-cured products. These results can influence positive social change if used in a targeted public health outreach/education program that focuses on the food safety risks associated with salt-cured products.