More evidence revealing the efficacy of HACCP systems in the battle for food safety comes from figures released this week by the US department of agriculture that show a 25 per cent dive in Listeria samples in the past year, and a massive 70 per cent drop compared to the days before HACCP.
The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) data said this week that from about 7,500 random samples taken from ready-to-eat meat and poultry products between 1 January and the end of September this year, 0.75 per cent tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes, compared with 1.03 per cent in 2002, 1.32 per cent in 2001 and 1.45 in 2000.
In a drive to cut Listeria monocytogenes presence in foods, the FSIS developed levels of scrutiny at operations depending on what they produced, and the type of Listeria monocytogenes control measures used. The rule also encouraged plants to install new technologies to eliminate or reduce the growth of Listeria.
At the end of last year the FSIS said that it would begin intensified testing at plants that produced high- and medium-risk ready-to-eat products that did not conduct environmental testing as a way of preventing Listeria monocytogenes or did not voluntarily share their environmental testing data.
In addition to efforts to combat Listeria monocytogenes, the USDA announced a series of science-based initiatives - part of the 'Enhancing Public Health: Strategies for the Future' - in July this year to 'better understand, predict and prevent microbiological contamination of meat and poultry products'.
The results released this week are not only pertinent for the USA, but clearly have a relevance at a global level. As the world becomes smaller mechanisms to protect consumers from the risks associated with food are, as every manufacturer knows, essential.