September is National Food Safety Education Month. This is also a time to return to school and learning, so it is a good time to learn about food safety in ready-to-eat and perishable foods often packed in school lunches. Listeria is one of the most common foodborne bacteria and is found in a wide range of foods; from ready-to-eat to produce and meat. The latest draft guidance released by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, “Control of Listeria monocytogenes in Ready-To-Eat Foods,” supports ongoing efforts by industry and government agencies to reduce the risk of Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat foods (1). The guidance includes recommendations for controls involving personnel, cleaning and maintenance of equipment, and sanitation, as well as for treatments that kill Listeria and prevent it from growing during storage of food between production and consumption. The guidance emphasizes the importance of routine testing for Listeria. Therefore, it is important to learn about the methods and reagents that can be used to detect Listeria to prevent foodborne outbreaks.
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