WASHINGTON — The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention Vital Signs report on listeria offers the latest evidence of the significant progress that the meat and poultry industry has made in reducing the dangerous pathogen Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat (RTE) meat and poultry products, said Dr. Betsy Booren, chief scientist for the American Meat Industry Foundation.
Federally regulated plants have not needed to recall ready-to-eat meat and poultry products due to a listeriosis outbreak since 2003, reconfirming that current manufacturing practices produce safe meat and poultry products, Booren pointed out.
The processed meat and poultry industry’s efforts to identify food safety strategies and to share research and best practices related to L. monocytogenes prevention and control have been key factors in preventing listeriosis outbreaks linked to meat and poultry products. These efforts include the implementation of programs referred to as ‘seek and destroy’ as well as progressive equipment suppliers adapting hygienic designs to processing equipment.
AMI’s board of directors in 2001 voted to adopt a non-competitive approach to food safety challenges to encourage Institute members to share strategies and technologies that enhance food safety. Since 1999, AMIF has funded 42 research projects total approximately $2.9 million focusing on how to reduce and eliminate Listeria monocytogenes in RTE products. In addition, since 2000, AMIF had held more than 25 peer-taught workshops on listeria control and prevention attended by more than 1,600 people. AMIF also created detailed equipment and facility design principles to encourage the design of both equipment and facilities in ways that optimize sanitation, which is one of the most critical listeria control strategies. The findings also reaffirm the benefits of public/private partnerships to reduce foodborne illness.
Booren noted that the CDC news “will continue to drive the meat and poultry industry to continue to look at innovative ways to continue to make our safe meat and poultry products even safer.”