The recommendations include a comprehensive research and technology agenda, public policy initiatives and consumer education programs. At the same time, the Institute, together with other members of the Joint Industry Task Force on Control of Microbial Pathogens, unveiled updated good manufacturing practices for controlling the incidence of microbial pathogens on ready-to-eat meat and poultry products.
“Since the 1980s, industry has used strict sanitation practices to prevent Listeria from entering or surviving in the plant environment or in products. However, despite companies’ best efforts, this elusive environmental pathogen can still sometimes contaminate ready-to-eat foods and grow, undetected, in distribution,” said AMI President J. Patrick Boyle. “Clearly, our industry needs new methods to ensure zero contamination – and we believe we can reach that goal reliably through new technologies.”
A key part of the Blue Ribbon Task Force report is recommending in-plant controls for preventing Listeria. These include:
In its report, AMI’s Blue Ribbon Task Force said, “Government cannot make products safe, but it can provide a regulatory and legal framework that encourages the industry to use all available options to prevent Listeria in ready-to-eat products.” The
Task Force proposed a joint industry and government forum to develop regulatory policies that will improve food safety. Initiatives in this area include:
The Task Force also said that all segments of the food chain must handle and prepare food products – including ready-to-eat foods – very carefully to reduce the risk of listeriosis. Key recommendations in this area include:
AMI’s Foundation has launched a fundraising effort to help cover the costs of these new initiatives and is inviting participation from government and other members of the food industry.
AMI noted that although recent publicity has focused on meat products as a source of Listeria, many other products pose an equal or greater risk. In 1998, there were five USDA-monitored recalls of meat and poultry products for Listeria contamination, while there were 25 recalls of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) foods for the same pathogen. The non-meat recalls included cole slaw, frozen blueberries, smoked salmon, chicken salad, many cheeses and ice cream.
“While we are primarily concerned with eliminating Listeria on ready-to-eat meat and poultry products, the entire food industry must work together to eliminate this pathogen from the food supply,” Boyle said.
“We are trying to meet a standard that cannot be achieved in every case given the state of technology,” Boyle added. “But we are committed to developing our detection and prevention tools further to continue to reduce and ultimately eliminate this
AMI represents the interests of packers and processors of beef, pork, lamb, veal and turkey products and their suppliers throughout North America. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute provides legislative, regulatory and public relations services, conducts scientific and economic research, offers marketing and technical assistance and sponsors education programs.