New research funded by the Frozen Food Foundation evaluates current environmental monitoring practices being implemented across the frozen food industry to prevent and control Listeria monocytogenes (Lm). The findings were published in the January 24, 2020, Journal of Food Protection (https://jfoodprotection.org/doi/abs/10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-19-190?journalCode=food).
The University of Georgia (UGA) study used an anonymous survey tool to understand existing environmental monitoring programs across a variety of frozen food manufacturing facilities. Information from more than 45 frozen food facilities was collected and, while monitoring practices were varied across the industry, the data indicated that facilities were predominantly testing for Listeria spp. in the environment (i.e. walls, floors and drains).
“This study is part of the frozen food industry’s commitment to better understand Listeria in frozen food facilities by reviewing current practices,” said Frozen Food Foundation Executive Vice President Dr. Donna Garren. “This research helps implement the frozen food industry’s science-based environmental monitoring programs to identify and reduce the risk of Lm that are available at AFFIFoodSafety.org.”
The lead researcher, Dr. Mark Harrison stated that, “There is a need for facilities to review their sampling strategy including the frequency and timing of sampling.” He further added, “Facilities should focus on looking for Lm at times and in places where they are most likely to find the pathogen for a realistic assessment.”
“Lm is a challenge because of its ubiquity and ability to survive freezing,” said Dr. Garren. “UGA’s research will help the frozen food industry identify appropriate sampling locations, timing and frequency to address the potential risk of this pathogen.”
This research will continue throughout 2020 as UGA analyzes quantitative environmental monitoring data aggregated from frozen food companies to serve as an important baseline for future assessments.