Making ready-to-eat meals safer

Related tags L. monocytogenes Food

New aqueous ozone technology, designed to make food safer by
eliminating Listeria, has been accepted by the US Department
of Agriculture's food safety inspection service (FSIS).
Manufacturer BOC claims that the anti-microbial process is proven
to kill Listeria.

The product is being targeted at makers of ready-to-eat (RTE) foods, since these foods eliminate the final, in-home cooking step that can kill any Listeria organisms that may remain on the food product. For these foods, Listeria organisms must be controlled in the food production environment to ensure consumer safety.

A recent risk assessment conducted by the FSIS, in conjunction with the Food and Drug Administration, ranks certain RTE meat and poultry products as having a very high potential for contamination. This is partly because the L. monocytogenes organism is capable of growing at refrigerated storage temperatures during the extended shelf life of the RTE meat and poultry products.

"Meat and poultry processors can incorporate antimicrobial ingredients such as salts of organic acids to control L.monocytogenes growth,"​ said James Marsden, regent's distinguished professor at Kansas State University (KSU).

"However, with RTE products, it is also necessary to incorporate a lethality step in the production process that will reduce the levels of this pathogen and leave surviving cells injured."

While surface heat can be used to achieve the lethality required for surface L. monocytogenes contamination, it can result in undesirable changes in product quality and the capital investment costs can be restrictive. BOC claims that the new aqueous ozone technology is effective in helping processors achieve the desired lethality for surface L. monocytogenes contamination, at a lower cost and without negatively impacting the food product.

"Producers of RTE products can now have confidence that there is a proven effective, accepted and economical means of killing Listeria on food products and food contact surfaces,"​ said BOC food safety markets business manager Mark DiMaggio.

BOC​ submitted its proprietary aqueous ozone technology to KSU for testing and validation. BOC then submitted the KSU results to the USDA as evidence that the technology will reduce surface contamination of L. monocytogenes and reduce the risk of this pathogen in the RTE products.

BOC provides a range of products such as ozone and UV light pathogen intervention systems, chilling and freezing technologies and modified atmosphere packaging. The group employs more than 44,500 people and had annual sales of some $7 billion in 2003.

Related topics Food Safety & Quality

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