What is being done to prevent Listeria contamination and Listeria outbreaks?

Many advances in food safety have been driven by the efforts of our food safety legal team. Because Listeria is so deadly, federal regulators are cracking down on how food companies manage their Listeria risk, including how Listeria is tested for (in the food processing environment) and what steps must be taken to prevent it. Under the Food Safety Modernization Act, the FDA has implemented stricter rules regarding Listeria testing and prevention, which should help reduce the number of outbreaks.

Whole Genome SequencingFor example, the FDA specifically provides a plan for testing for Listeria in the food processing environment, and has issued in-depth draft guidance to the industry for how manufacturers can prevent the bacteria from entering the consumer food supply.

Listeria prevention has also caught the attention of the food industry, with food safety experts working to develop plans to “seek and destroy” Listeria in processing environments.

But a huge part of Listeria prevention starts with understanding past outbreaks of listeriosis. Technology like whole genome sequencing can help detect clusters of Listeria infections, even if only two people have gotten sick, which may point to a common source of the bacteria. When public health officials are able to detect outbreaks and determine a common source, regulators and food companies alike are more able to learn

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