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US: Battling Listeria in produce processing

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Food Quality and Safety: Listeria-related outbreaks and recalls are a persistent problem for the produce industry, according to the CDC’s listing of foodborne illness outbreaks and the FDA recall list. However, unlike other foodborne pathogens such as E. coli or Salmonella, which are usually brought into the plant on incoming raw material, Listeria can become resident in a processing facility, subsequently contaminating produce with each processing. Listeria is a particularly challenging problem for produce processors. Much, if not all, of their product will reach consumers’ plates without undergoing additional processing, such as cooking, that could kill pathogens. This ready-to-eat status requires that produce coming into the plant be free of contamination, and that processing is carried out in a manner that minimizes the potential for contamination.

Sanitary design of facilities and equipment is a major challenge for the produce industry. An effective program starts with a plant and equipment that can be cleaned properly.

Read the full article at the Food Quality and Safety website