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Over the last few years a considerable spread of ethnic foods was observed in Italy. Among them is the Döner kebab. During 2014-2015, in order to evaluate the effectiveness of traditional cooking process, raw product (defrosted), sliced cooked portions cut through electric knife and assembled sandwich were officially sampled in kebab houses and in a local industrial kebab producer in Reggio Emilia (a province in Italy). Microbiological researches for safety and hygienic microbiological indicators were carried out (research of Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, Campylobacter and Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli; enumeration mesophilic aerobic bacteria, lactic acid bacteria, sulfite-reducing bacteria growing under anaerobic conditions, yeasts and molds). Between the raw and the cooked product an average of 3 log reduction in mesophilic aerobic bacteria counts was observed. In two out of three kebab houses sampled, which were supplied by the same local industrial producer, the presence of L. monocytogenes was detected. During the official inspection carried out at the production plant a contamination of L. monocytogenes was assessed in both ambient and instruments. Furthermore, 3 lots of products were analyzed and all were found to be contaminated by L. monocytogenes (always above 100 CFU/g). In order to verify the capability of the traditional cooking process to reduce the risk of contamination at an acceptable level, a batch of naturally contaminated kebab (4.5 log CFU/g) was cooked and sliced simulating a day work activity in a kebab shop. The product was then sampled during preparation and enumeration of L. monocytogenes was obtained. After an hour of cooking, the residual contamination was 1.8 log CFU/g, after two hours and a half L. monocytogenes was no longer detectable in the product, but half an hour later it was again detectable in 25g. At the end of the experiment, the contamination grown up to the same level enumerated after an hour of cooking (1.8 log CFU/g). Considering the microbiological results, traditional cooking obtained a rate of -2.40 log CFU/gh-1, a D=26 min that corresponds to a temperature of maximum 60°C (z=6). In conclusion, our experiment demonstrates the traditional kebab cooking process could not always guarantee a complete product decontamination.
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