Listeria management in low-risk foods
L. monocytogenes is a bacterium that causes the disease listeriosis, which can be deadly to certain pockets of the population. It is naturally occurring and is known to cause outbreaks when found on contaminated food.
Published in Food Control, an international scientific journal for food safety and process control professionals, the research represents the proceedings and recommendations of AFFI’s Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) International Expert Panel.
The panel was formed in 2018 and comprises eminent researchers in Listeria science, epidemiology, risk modelling, food microbiology, and regulatory and public health policy. It was designed to merge available Lm research and data with the most recent scientific thinking on regulatory policies governing the prevalence of Lm in foods.
Key elements of the manuscript include discussions on:
- the importance of using risk-based approaches to regulate the presence of Lm across the broad category of ready-to-eat foods;
- the benefits of policies that acknowledge the ubiquity of Lm and encourage finding and destroying, controlling cross-contamination and preventing growth of the pathogen;
- a framework to facilitate further reduction of public health impact relative to Lm by expending limited resources (almost solely) on high-risk foods;
- establishing a regulatory action level for low-risk foods, particularly where foods do not support growth of Lm;
- alternate sampling and testing protocols to address Lm risk;
- effective testing by industry of low-risk foods to better protect public health.
AFFI President and CEO Alison Bodor said the frozen food industry is committed to advancing food safety practices to prevent and control L. monocytogenes.
“We’re grateful for the insights and guidance from the Lm International Expert Panel and believe their new recommendations should guide practical and sustained approaches to Listeria regulatory policy that improve public health,” Bodor said.
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