Log in Join Grass Roots Action

Food Safety Leader John Butts, Ph.D., to Headline Advanced Listeria Monocytogenes Intervention and Control Workshop

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Washington, D.C – John Butts, Ph.D., vice president of research at Land O’Frost and widely recognized food safety leader, will play a prominent role at this year’s AMIF Advanced Listeria monocytogenes Intervention and Control Workshop December 6-7, 2011, at the Hilton Rosemont in Chicago, Illinois.

Butts is scheduled to lead sessions on sanitary equipment and design principles, investigative and corrective actions and case studies in process control.

Butts has been instrumental in promoting food safety efforts for all meat and poultry companies by embracing the philosophy that food safety should be a non-competitive issue. He introduced a pasteurization step and a one-way product process through the plant in the 1980s and implemented one of the first plant HACCP programs in the 1990s. Butts also co-authored AMI’s Listeria Prevention and Control Program and is a regular and well-respected instructor.

Butts has served on several AMI committees, and held the position of chairman of the Scientific Affairs Committee from 2001 to 2003.

The AMI Foundation recently talked asked  Butts about his thoughts on food safety progress and challenges. 

 AMIF: You have served on AMI’s Scientific Affairs Committee (SAC) for more than 30 years. What are some of the greatest successes you have been a part of as a member and former chair of this Committee? Particularly in the area of Listeria control?

BUTTS: Helping or facilitating resolution of industry issues. Examples include integrated time – temperature lethality for cooking roast beef to control salmonella.  (Appendix B was a result.) SAC also played a role on GMP’s for fermented sausages in control of O157:H7.

Over the years, our industry has had to defend nitrite in our products.  The SAC Committee has carried the ball on this defense. SAC members united under Randy Huffman’s leadership to form the Lm Workshop.


AMIF: Your development of the “Seek and Destroy” program at Land O Frost put you at the forefront of food safety in the industry. Can you explain a little about the program and how it has impacted food safety at your plant and elsewhere?

BUTTS: The “Seek and Destroy” program and process is a tool used by a team to discover “root causes” of problems.  It separates fact from fantasy.  The process supports using data to solve problems.  The loudest person in the room is not always right.  “Seek and Destroy” is part of a continuous improvement program.  We are now approaching 20 years of S&D team activity.  As team members come and go,lessons learned stay on.  It has become an integral part of our preventative – predictive company-wide food safety culture.


AMIF: You were also instrumental in developing AMI’s Listeria Prevention and Control Program, which is at the center of the upcoming Listeria Workshop. What about this method has made it so successful?  Why are workshops like this important?

BUTTS: Our recommendations are based on experience.  Our instructors have scars from learning from their mistakes.  This information is priceless.  Attendees do not have to make the same mistakes we have made.  We share those experiences in the form of “Best Practices.”  We practice what we teach.  We have data to support success.


AMIF: What will you be addressing at the Listeria workshop? What do you hope to impart to attendees?

BUTTS: I will play a role facilitation in some of our breakouts.  These have been very popular because the attendees get to work together with their peers to solve common problems we all face in control of this pathogen.  They see how others’ ideas can be used to help solve problems.  I think these exercises help the attendee work outside of the box; they find themselves in within their own company.  There are many myths we have busted over the years.  They gain encouragement to try things they have never done before.

I also present the session on investigation and corrective action.  It is one of the latter presentations in the program.  I try to bring the concepts together to enable each attendee to have a better understanding of how the organism survives and moves around in the RTE plant environment.  We discuss tools on how to find, control or manage and eliminate. 


AMIF: As someone who is at the forefront of Listeria control efforts, what do you expect next? What does the future look like for control of this pathogen?

BUTTS: Listeria still remains at the forefront from the public health perspective.  It is not the most prevalent, but it is has the highest hospitalization and fatality rate among the common food pathogens.  The recent Jensen Farms cantaloupe situation is a classic example.  Listeria is not just a problem with processed meats; it is a problem for any product that can harbor and ultimately support growth.  Many small business or food processing operations have not implemented the control measures and interventions we advocate.  Until this happens or a silver bullet is discovered, Listeria will be a public health issue.


The Advanced Listeria monocytogenes Intervention and Control Workshop is co-sponsored by the North American Meat Processors Association (NAMP) and the Canadian Meat Council (CMC). Space for the workshop is limited to 60 participants.  For more information and to register, go to http://meatinstitute.org/ht/d/sp/i/40701/pid/40701.




 share on facebook  share on twitter