Validation of ISO method 11290. Part 1 - Detection of Listeria monocytogenes in foods

S. L. Scotter, S. Langton, B. Lombard, S. Schulten, N. Nagelkerke, P. H. In't Veld, P. Rollier, C. Lahellec

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Citations (Scopus)


The European and International Standard method for the detection of Listeria monocytogenes, described in EN ISO 11290 Part 1: 1997 (International Organisation for Standardisation, Geneva) was validated by order of the European Commission (Standards, Measurement and Testing Fourth Framework Programme Project SMT4-CT96-2098). Nineteen laboratories in 14 countries in Europe participated in a collaborative trial to determine the performance characteristics of the method, which are intended for publication in the corresponding standard. An additional objective of this project was to devise a new series of parameters to indicate the 'precision' of microbiological qualitative methods. The method was challenged with three food types, namely fresh cheese, minced beef and dried egg powder and a reference material. Inoculation levels ranged from 5 to 100 cfu/25 g. Each participant examined five replicates of each food type at three inoculum levels and five reference materials. Both PALCAM and Oxford media were assessed. All test materials were subjected to stringent homogeneity and stability testing before being used in the collaborative trial. The results demonstrated that the method prescribed in EN ISO 11290-1 had an overall sensitivity of 85.6% and a specificity of 97.4%. L. monocytogenes was detected in most cases after primary enrichment, although secondary enrichment often yielded further positives. However, a significant number of false-negative results were obtained with all food types when large numbers of L. innocua were present in the test materials. L. innocua tended to dominate L. monocytogenes during the selective enrichment stages and thus masked small numbers of colonies of L. monocytogenes on the isolation media. There was no evidence from this collaborative study to demonstrate a significant difference in performance between Oxford and PALCAM media. Due to the problem of false-negative results with this method as highlighted in this trial, recommendations have been made to ISO to launch a revision of the standard to improve the detection of low numbers of L. monocytogenes in foods. New statistical methods devised to advance the measurement of the performance of qualitative microbiological methods are also described.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-306
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Food Microbiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 20 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • EN ISO 11290-1
  • Food
  • Listeria monocytogenes
  • Performance characteristics
  • Validation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Microbiology


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