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Listeria In FSIS Ready-To-Eat Products Shows Significant Decline

by 5m Editor
20 October 2003, at 12:00am

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service today released data showing a one year, 25 percent drop in the percentage of positive Listeria monocytogenes samples and a 70 percent decline compared with years prior to the implementation of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) system.

Listeria In FSIS Ready-To-Eat Products Shows Significant Decline - WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service today released data showing a one year, 25 percent drop in the percentage of positive Listeria monocytogenes samples and a 70 percent decline compared with years prior to the implementation of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) system.

Of the random FSIS samples collected and analyzed between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30, 2003, 0.75 percent tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes, compared with 1.03 percent in 2002; 1.32 percent in 2001; 1.45 in 2000; 1.91 percent in 1999; 2.54 percent in 1998; 2.25 percent in 1997; 2.91 percent in 1996; and 3.02 in 1995. FSIS collects about 7,500 samples a year in ready-to-eat meat and poultry products.

“Our number one goal is protecting public health,” said FSIS Administrator Dr. Garry L. McKee. “FSIS has taken aggressive action to prevent contamination of ready-to-eat meat and poultry products by Listeria monocytogenes and our testing is verifying that our programs are effective.”

In November 2002, FSIS announced it would begin intensified testing at plants that produced high- and medium-risk ready-to-eat products that did not conduct environmental testing as a way of preventing Listeria monocytogenes or did not voluntarily share their environmental testing data. Also, the Agency announced that plants that did not voluntarily choose to share their environmental testing data with FSIS would be subject to the intensified testing program.

Listeria monocytogenes can be dangerous for pregnant women, very young children and the elderly. In addition to an aggressive sampling program, FSIS examines the testing data generated by plants producing these products and raises awareness through education about the dangers of Listeria monocytogenes, especially among at-risk groups.

Following the development and publication of a risk assessment for Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat meat and poultry products and a risk ranking developed in cooperation with the Food and Drug Administration, FSIS issued a rule to further drive down the rate of Listeria monocytogenes. The rule established levels of FSIS scrutiny at plants depending upon what they produced and the type of Listeria monocytogenes control measures used. The rule also encouraged plants to install new technologies to eliminate or reduce the growth of Listeria monocytogenes.

FSIS testing data for Listeria monocytogenes can be found at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/ophs/rtetest/

In addition to these efforts targeting Listeria monocytogenes, USDA announced a series of new, science-based initiatives on July 10 to better understand, predict and prevent microbiological contamination of meat and poultry products, thereby improving health outcomes for American families. Those initiatives, which are included in a document entitled “Enhancing Public Health: Strategies for the Future,” can be found at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/oa/programs/vision071003.htm.

Source: - Food Safety and Inspection Service - 17th October 2003

5m Editor