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Listeria Monocytogenes in Ready-to-Eat Foods: Input Requested for Update of 2003 Risk Assessment

Food Basket

Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition - Food and Drug Administration

April 15, 2011

In 2003, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) issued a quantitative assessment of the relative health risk from Listeria monocytogenes in 23 categories of ready-to-eat (RTE) foods. The agencies are preparing to update that risk assessment, to incorporate data and information that have emerged since then. A Federal Register notice requesting input from the public, to inform this effort, has been issued. The deadline for input is July 6, 2011.

In addition to seeking newly available information relevant to the risk posed by these foods and to mitigation strategies, the agencies are requesting technical comments on the approach that will be taken to conduct this project. (See links, below.) The input provided, such as descriptions of changes in industry practices, has the potential to change estimates of the risk of listeriosis associated with various ready-to-eat foods.

The outcome of the updated risk assessment can inform the agencies as they consider policy, resource-allocation, research, and outreach decisions, for example. Specific areas of interest include, but are not limited to, the following, and are described in more detail in the Federal Register notice:

  • L. monocytogenes contamination in various RTE foods sampled at retail or in processing plants;
  • L. monocytogenes survival and growth dynamics in RTE foods;
  • the relationship between dose of L. monocytogenes ingested and frequency of listeriosis;
  • current food-consumption practices in the U.S.;
  • food production practices in the U.S. that may affect L. monocytogenes prevalence, concentration, survival, or growth in RTE foods;
  • storage times and temperatures that may affect L. monocytogenes growth during transport and storage of foods in consumers’ homes;
  • other comments, including the RTE food categories that should be evaluated.

See the 2003 risk assessment, whose format will provide an understanding of the approach planned for this project.