Listeria media coverage creating false impression

Source of Article:


Letters to the Editor


Posted 9 hours ago



The recent media coverage of the finding of listeria in a meat processing establishment is unwarranted and is creating a false impression of both the industry and Canada's meat inspection system.

Listeria is a common environmental contaminant and responsible companies routinely carry out tests on samples collected from the processing environment to verify the effectiveness of their sanitation programs. The sampling programs are designed to find Listeria if it is present, so that sanitation measures can be adjusted to eliminate it.

In this context, and given the nature of the organism, finding it in the processing environment (e. g. on walls, floors or in drains) is not uncommon; it is an expected outcome of testing. This pattern -- testing, finding, sanitizing and re-testing to verify effect --is repeated at whatever frequency an establishment needs to maintain and demonstrate effective hygienic control. Eliminating or reducing Listeria to undetectable levels in the processing environment is the surest way to prevent contamination of ready-to-eat food products.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) fulfills the valuable role of overseeing the performance of the food industry. In the case of federally registered meat processing establishments, diligent CFIA inspectors carry out onsite inspections and audits to verify that the establishments have the necessary measures in place to achieve control over Listeria in their operations. When deficiencies are noted, the inspectors can exercise their authority to ensure that appropriate corrective actions are taken.

The Canadian Meat Council and its members are committed to doing everything necessary to produce safe products and to protect consumers from food safety hazards. We are also determined to support and contribute to CFIA efforts to elaborate, implement and verify compliance with sound science-and risk-based policies to further strengthen Canada's food safety system.

In that vein, the Canadian Meat Council, in partnership with other national industry associations, has formed an Industry Listeria monocytogenes Working Group to facilitate the industry's participation in CFIA's current policy consultation process. The working group is also in the process of developing guidance for the industry in the form of best pactices for listeria control in meat processing establishments to broaden and further enhance the application of measures that will raise the standard for listeria control in Canada.

James M. Laws, executive director Canadian Meat Council



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