This was the overarching message at “Listeria 2000: Industry Sponsored Research Update,” sponsored by the AMI Foundation and the Sara Lee Foundation at the Georgetown Center for Food and Nutrition Policy yesterday. The goal of the meeting was to provide a forum to share new L.m. research.
According to Lester Crawford, DVM, director of the Georgetown Center, L.m. presents unique challenges because it is a pervasive, environmental contaminant that can be found in air, water and soil. “And because it grows under refrigeration, once it is present in a plant environment – or even in a home refrigerator – it can be extremely difficult to eliminate,” Crawford said. “That’s why it is important for the research community to work together closely with government and industry to share information that will help us eliminate this pathogen.”
During the roundtable, more than 70 scientists, academic experts and regulators discussed 14 ongoing and recently completed research projects on equipment design, new test methods, the use of anti-microbial additives, irradiation and other post-packaging pasteurization technologies and consumer handling issues that may contribute to Listeria growth and to cross contamination of foods.
The AMI Foundation funded six of these projects. They include:
Most people are immune to illness from L.m. However, pregnant women, newborns, the very old and people who are immune-compromised can develop the disease listeriosis if exposed to sufficient numbers of the pathogen. While it is one of the rarest foodborne diseases, it is one most serious. The government advises these vulnerable people to reheat or avoid certain foods, including some ready-to-eat meat and poultry products, as well as some dairy foods.
“Our research update showed there clearly is no silver bullet in the fight against Listeria,” said AMIF Vice President of Scientific and Technical Affairs Randy Huffman, Ph.D. “But there are many important hurdles available – and many new ones on the horizon -- that can be used from the plant to the consumer’s table to help ensure food safety. This industry benefits by
selling safe food. We will continually seek new ways to make our products as safe as they can be.”
For more information on AMIF’s research, visit http://www.amif.org
The AMI Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to research, education and information that benefit the meat and poultry industry. Originally created in 1944, the AMI Foundation today solicits grants from government, industry and other organizations to fund a broad range of food safety, worker safety, nutrition and consumer information projects.