DVFA: Most manufacturers well prepared on preventing Listeria

By Joseph James Whitworth contact

- Last updated on GMT

Listeria control campaign for Danish RTE deli meat producers

Related tags: Meat

Most ready to eat deli meat manufacturers are well-prepared when it comes to preventing Listeria, according to a control campaign in Denmark.

The results found a total compliance of 85%.

Fødevarestyrelsen (the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration/DVFA) said findings demonstrate an acceptable compliance to existing regulation and a good level of Listeria-prevention in production of ready to eat deli meat.

Based on the findings the DVFA will develop more user-friendly tools and improve existing guidance material on areas such as sampling in relation to management, control and prevention of Listeria with a specific focus on small food businesses in which most challenges seems to exist.

These initiatives are also part of a political agreement agreed in April 2015.

Annette Perge, head of unit in the DVFA, said it is of great concern and importance to the DVFA that food businesses take the matter of controlling and preventing Listeria seriously.

“It is first and foremost the responsibility of the food business operators to ensure that their food products do not pose a risk to the consumer,” ​she told FoodQualityNews.

Target of control campaign and results

The control campaign was aimed at wholesale food businesses producing ready to eat deli meats.

It included all wholesale food businesses producing ready to eat deli meat. No distinction was made in selection of businesses based on financial size, type or numbers of employees or a mixture.

The two criteria was type of food (ready to eat deli meat) and type of business (wholesale).

A total of 67 food businesses were inspected - the number of sanctions was 14, 12 warnings, one injunction and one fine.

Perge said within each subject the compliance varied a little, for instance within traceability the compliance was 98%.

“The fine was given due to insufficient and scarce cleaning of production environment and equipment. The injunction was given due to unacceptable handling of a recall/withdrawal,” ​she said.

“The warnings were given due to inadequate and deficient risk analysis and own control programs - including lack of documented microbiological sampling or insufficient microbiological sampling, insufficient cleaning, unsatisfactory protection from cross contamination risks.

“Overall the majority of the warnings were given within the area of own control.”

Why RTE deli meats and future areas of interest

Based on a review by the DVFA of the 2014 Listeria outbreak​ caused by a type of ready to eat deli meat a number of initiatives was instigated including the control campaign against food businesses producing ready to eat deli meats.

“Part of the control campaign included registration of the weekly production volume of ready to eat deli meats to investigate whether a difference could be observed between small production businesses (< 5 ton/week) and large production businesses (> 5 ton/week),”​ said Perge.

“The results showed that small production businesses needed more guidance and had a slight tendency not to comply with the existing regulations.

“The primary focus was control procedures and hygiene procedures which should demonstrate knowledge of how to manage production in order to control Listeria.

“The food businesses must comply with the existing regulation and must follow guidelines relevant to control and prevention of Listeria developed by the EU and the DVFA.”

The control included hygiene in handling of food, cross-contamination, production order, storage of food and packing materials and hygiene in cleaning of equipment, production environment, packing materials and maintenance of equipment and production facilities.  

It also looked at a firm’s own control in risk analysis, microbiological sampling of products and production environment, knowledge of Listeria growth conditions in respective products, documentation and traceability.

Perge said no past control campaigns have been performed with a similar aim and target group.

“Currently the DVFA is effectuating a similar control campaign, only the target group is wholesale food businesses producing ready to eat smoked and graved fish,” ​she said 

“Each year the DVFA decides which control campaigns are to be effectuated the following year. The DVFA has not decided on whether to repeat the control campaign in food businesses producing ready to eat meat products or not.”

Related topics: Food Safety & Quality

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