In preventing foodborne illnesses, several different factors play a pivotal role in safeguarding final products. Several recent recalls associated with Listeria monocytogenes are prompting food manufacturers to ensure their food safety management plans address all possible sources of in-plant contamination.
Listeria can be life-threatening to individuals with weakened immune systems, pregnant women or older adults. Dairy, prepared foods, produce and seafood were the matrices most commonly contaminated with Listeria over the past five years, according to data from the latest FDA Reportable Food Registry (RFR) report.The presence of pathogens, such as Listeria, in a final food product may be traced to contaminated ingredients or contaminated production equipment. Once Listeria enters the processing environment, it can survive there for years. According to the FDA, Listeria bacteria can grow at refrigerator temperatures above 40° F and can survive in frozen foods. Only heating food above 158° F kills the bacteria, so the consumption of undercooked or unpasteurized products poses the highest risk for foodborne illness.
It is inherent for food manufacturers to verify the safety of ingredients with their suppliers, in addition to implementing and maintaining an effective environmental monitoring program. Rigorous swabbing for pathogens and indicator organisms allows for the early detection of contamination issues in the plant. If pathogenic growth is found, corrective actions can be taken early-on to kill the bacteria before it grows or spreads further. This can prevent costly product recalls and consumer illness.
To aid food manufacturers, Mérieux NutriSciences offers a wide variety of rapid detection platforms and methods for the detection of Listeria species. We also perform FDA BAM cultural methods (MPN) to enumerate Listeria species and specifically Listeriamonocytogenes.
Additionally, Mérieux NutriSciences can provide full method validation and verification services, as well as on-site consulting and educational services. Our technical teams can conduct an in-depth review of your analytical testing needs, logistical and data management needs, and sampling procedures to improve your safety management programs. We can assist food manufacturers with implementing or enhancing Listeria environmental monitoring programs and validating pathogen reduction preventive control steps.
Meet the Author
Social Media Specialist, Mérieux NutriSciences
Paige Krzysko is the Social Media Specialist for Mérieux NutriSciences and, as such, she works with several departments across the organization on their food safety communications. One of her main interests in the food industry is how federal regulations affect food production. She’s worked in communications for five years and earned her Bachelor of Science in Journalism from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.