LISTERIA, LISTERIOSIS, AND FOOD SAFETY, 2nd ed. Elliot T. Ryser and Elmer H. Marth, eds. Marcel Dekker, Inc., 270 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10016 (212-696-9000; fax 212-685-4540; Web site: ISBN: 0-8247-0235-2. 1999. 738 pp. No price given.

The release of this book couldn’t have been more timely. Listeria monocytogenes has become the focus of government, industry, and media attention after an outbreak of listeriosis from hot dogs. Of course, this book was printed before the outbreak, so one won’t find information on it here, but one will find just about everything else one wants to know about L. monocytogenes.

The utility of this revised and expanded second edition is greatly enhanced by the contributions of key researchers in the field, and it has extensive references in each chapter for those who wish to delve further on a topic. The book covers classification of the organism, its characteristics, and detection methods (convention and rapid), as well as the incidence of listeriosis in animals and humans. The chapter on foodborne listeriosis provides a compilation of outbreaks not provided in other sources of information. The chapter on subtyping is particularly useful in describing the merits and the limitations of the many different procedures.

I have a few minor complaints about the book. One relates to the information on thermal inactivation. There are about a dozen pages devoted to this topic in the chapter on the characteristics of the organism—all focused on milk. Other sections in this chapter, such as antimicrobial components of food, are broader in scope. There are other sections on thermal inactivation in the chapters on meat, poultry, and seafood, but the index (“heat resistance,” “thermal inactivation”) does not lead one to all the relevant sections. A comprehensive review of the heat resistance of L. monocytogenes in various foods would have been appreciated.

My second complaint is the lack of a section devoted to regulatory policy. Regulatory considerations are addressed in various parts of the book, with lists of recalls in several chapters and a brief discussion about tolerance levels at the end of the last chapter. However, one has to do some searching to find this information; again, the index comes up short. An appendix provides media formulations, but no information on preparation or any references.

In spite of these drawbacks, I find this book to be the most comprehensive review of L. monocytogenes available, and an excellent reference for anyone in the field of food safety.

Virginia N. Scott, Senior Director, Food Safety Programs, National Food Processors Association, Washington, D.C.

HANDBOOK OF FOOD PRESERVATION. M. Shafiur Rahman, ed. Marcel Dekker, Inc., 270 Madison Ave., New York, N.Y. 10016 (212-685-4540; Web site: ISBN: 0-8247-209-3. 1999. 809 pp. No price given.

The dictionary defines a handbook as “a concise manual or reference book providing specific information or instruction about a subject or place.” According to that definition, this is certainly not a handbook. Rather, this is an academic treatise on a range of subjects and is therefore unbalanced. There is simply not enough applications-oriented material in many chapters for it to be a useful handbook. 

This does not apply to all chapters, however—the chapters on high-pressure processing and antioxidants are quite good. As an example of the lack of understanding of industry practice, during the discussion of modified-atmosphere packaging, the implication is that Clostridium botulinum is a problem in vegetables, when realistically it is not. The book might be a useful source for researchers looking for references, but I cannot envision it as a really useful reference for the practicing food scientist.

The text does not quite flow, either. There are chapters that could have been combined, and others that could have been eliminated. For example, the water activity and drying chapters could have been combined, or at least placed next to one another. There are also processing methods that are glossed over (e.g., frying) or ignored (extraction and pressing of edible oils).

The two-volume ICMSF series is a much better reference text. All in all, I believe that the editor could have done a better job when it came to assembling this “handbook.”

Richard F. Stier, IFT Fellow, Abt Associates, Cairo, Egypt  

Correction: It has come to our attention that the ordering phone number for Aspen Publishers, Inc. was transposed in the April issue of Food Technology. The correct number is 800-638-8437. The editors regret the error.