The United Fresh Produce Association's Food Safety & Technology Council has developed a document, Guidance on Environmental Monitoring and Control of Listeria for the Fresh Produce Industry, that aims to guide the fresh produce industry in developing practical and scientifically sound “search and destroy” programs for Listeria. The guide is free of charge and available online for United members and non-members.
As a United Fresh press release pointed out, two recent outbreaks have demonstrated the vulnerability of some fresh and fresh-cut operations to Listeria harborage leading to product contamination. The association also expressed the concern that some customers and supplier operations have implemented Listeria testing programs without a good understanding of their scientific validity. While the processed foods industry and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have long had guidance for Listeria monitoring and control, United Fresh officials said that guidance applicable to the unique conditions of fresh produce handling operations has been lacking. The new guide describes in-depth handling techniques for fresh and fresh-cut produce, which offers some unique opportunities and challenges.
The guide is applicable to all fresh and fresh-cut produce operations, including field and field packing, packinghouse and other produce handling operations such as re-pack, value-added and transport/distribution to retail/foodservice. United Fresh encourages all produce handling operations to use this guide to 1) determine their level of vulnerability to Listeria harborage that may lead to produce contamination, and 2) if vulnerable, to develop and implement an effective Listeria monitoring and control program.
To download Guidance on Environmental Monitoring and Control of Listeria for the Fresh Produce Industry, visit www.unitedfresh.org/listeria_guide.