December 14, 2017, 1:00-2:00 pm ET
The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA), Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) will host a webinar on December 14, 2017 at 1:00 pm ET to discuss how to control Listeria in the retail environment. A FSIS/Food and Drug Administration (FDA) interagency risk assessment found that over 80% of Listeria illnesses associated with ready-to-eat meat or poultry products sold at delis (i.e., deli meat) were attributed to product sliced or otherwise handled at the retail store.
The webinar is specifically designed for State, U.S. Territory and Tribal officials and food safety professionals who oversee foodservice retail operations with in-house delicatessens (e.g., grocery stores, convenience stores) and to discuss the Agency document, “FSIS Best Practices Guidance for Controlling Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) in Retail Delicatessens.” The guidance was announced in the Federal Register (80 FR 33228) on June 11, 2015 and is posted on line. The document provides specific recommendations for actions retailers can take in the deli area to control Lm contamination of ready-to-eat (RTE) meat and poultry products.
In addition, the Agency will discuss the latest findings from its ongoing multi-year nationwide pilot project to assess whether retailers are using the recommendations in its “Best Practices Guidance for Controlling Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) in Retail Delicatessens.” As part of the pilot project, FSIS Compliance Investigators are completing questionnaires on whether retailers are following specific recommendations from the guidance. The questionnaire is used to compare the practices observed in retail delis to the FSIS Retail Lm Guideline in the following areas: product handling, cleaning and sanitizing, facility and equipment controls, and employee practices. Information from the pilot project is analyzed quarterly and the results are posted on FSIS’ Web site.
Lm is a bacterium that is found in moist environments, soil and decaying vegetation, and can persist along the food continuum. Transfer of the bacteria from the retail environment (e.g., deli cases, slicers, and utensils), employees or raw food products is a particular hazard of concern in RTE foods, including meat and poultry products.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that listeriosis, a serious infection, causes about 1,600 illnesses, 1,500 hospitalizations, and 260 deaths in the United States each year. While listeriosis is rare, the CDC estimates that Lm causes a high level of deaths compared to other foodborne pathogens.
During the webinar, FSIS officials will provide background information on Lm and listeriosis, discuss the updated controls for Lm in retail delis and findings from the multi-year nationwide pilot project, and take questions.
For background, the guidance was developed based on key findings from:
· The FSIS/FDA ‘‘Interagency Risk Assessment—Listeria monocytogenes in Retail Delicatessens;’’
· The available scientific knowledge;
· The 2013 FDA Food Code; and
· Lessons learned from controlling Lm in FSIS-inspected meat and poultry processing establishments.
The guidance discusses practical steps that retailers can take to prevent certain RTE foods that are prepared or sliced in retail delis and consumed in the home, such as deli meats and deli salads, from becoming contaminated with Lm and thus a potential source of listeriosis.
FSIS encourages retailers and public health officials to review the guidance and evaluate the effectiveness of their retail practices and intervention strategies in reducing the risk of listeriosis to consumers from RTE meat and poultry deli products.