Campden BRI has begun an industry survey to gain an insight into how much control the food industry has over Listeria.
Listeria monocytogenes (listeria) is a bacterium that causes an illness called listeriosis, and the new survey forms part of a new research project that will deliver new guidelines and controls to help the industry manage the pathogen.
Microbiologist Gail Betts, who is leading the project, said: “Recent outbreaks of Listeria have reminded the food industry of the serious food safety concern this pathogen creates along the food chain. All food business operators who manufacture ready-to-eat foods must be able to demonstrate effective control of Listeria in their products. This is very important not just because of the health risk this pathogen poses to the public, but also because it is a requirement under EU legislation.
“However, working closely with the industry we’ve found that food manufacturers find it a challenge to provide the right evidence to demonstrate effective control of Listeria to customers and the enforcement authorities. In recent years there have been a number of product recalls related to this pathogen due to food business operators being unable to adequately demonstrate control – so this is a significant issue. There have also been outbreaks that clearly show instances where control is not in place.”
“This will be a big step forward for the industry so we’re keen to encourage food businesses to take part and inform this valuable piece of work.”
The results from the survey will provide the data that will help establish how well Listeria is managed in the industry and assemble more effective guidance and controls that producers can use to tackle this organism. The project will create a structured system to help food manufacturers prove they can control Listeria.
Betts continued: “Evidence of controlling Listeria can come from many different sources from challenge tests to historical data, but each approach will not necessarily provide the same evidence of control. Understandably, this can be confusing for food business operators. The structured system that we’re producing will work like a scoring system. Food business operators will receive points from these different approaches and when a threshold is reached, they will have assurance that they can demonstrate effective control of Listeria in ready-to-eat foods. This will be a big step forward for the industry so we’re keen to encourage food businesses to take part and inform this valuable piece of work.”
Over the project’s two-year course, Campden BRI will also conduct investigations on selected products and manufacturing sites, during which the project team will perform challenge tests and durability studies. A group of leading industry experts will also be convened to steer the project and the resulting guidance.
Anyone wishing to take part in the survey can complete it at www.campdenbri.co.uk/listeriasurvey.