Science to Support the Prevention of Listeria monocytogenes in Ready-to-Eat Foods

  • Janell R. Kause
  • Daniel L. Gallagher
  • Daniel L. Engeljohn
Chapter
Part of the Food Microbiology and Food Safety book series (FMFS)

Abstract

Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) is a foodborne pathogen of international public health concern. It is a leading cause of food-related hospitalization, fetal loss, and death in the United States (U.S.). Most exposures result from foods that do not undergo further consumer cooking and are considered ready-to-eat (RTE). In most healthy individuals, exposure to Lm results in flu-like symptoms; however, among growing susceptible populations (e.g., older adults, pregnant women, and the immunocompromised), exposure to Lm can result in spontaneous abortion (in pregnant women), septicemia, meningitis, and death. Control of Lm can be difficult, since it is widely distributed and persists along the entire food supply chain, can re-contaminate RTE foods, and can grow to high levels at typical refrigeration temperatures. Despite these challenges, the U.S. has successfully reduced the incidence of listeriosis by over 42% in the past decade – primarily as a result of a regulatory risk management strategy that motivated industry adoption of more effective Lm processing controls and implementation of enhanced sanitation programs to prevent Lm contamination of meat and poultry products. This chapter explores the systematic conduct and use of microbiological risk assessments to effectively guide federal policies and programs, creation of a regulatory environment that supported industry efforts to prevent Lm contamination of RTE meat and poultry products, and the resulting shared public-private success in reducing the risk of listeriosis in the U.S. The chapter ends with the consideration of several recent outbreaks of invasive listeriosis and recognition of continued gaps in knowledge to fully assess the food safety risk that supports maintenance of a “zero tolerance” for Lm.

Keywords

Listeria monocytogenes Risk assessment Risk management strategy Process controls Enhanced sanitation programs Regulatory environment  Prevention 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Janell R. Kause
    • 1
  • Daniel L. Gallagher
    • 2
  • Daniel L. Engeljohn
    • 1
  1. 1.U.S. Department of AgricultureFood Safety and Inspection ServiceWashington, DCUSA
  2. 2.Department of Civil & Environmental EngineeringVirginia TechBlacksburgUSA

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