To combat the prevalence of Listeria monocytogenes in deli foods, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is launching a year-long nationwide pilot project aimed as assessing whether or not retailers are utilizing the best methods to control Listeria in their stores.

FSIS Compliance Investigators will be using official rules and recommendations outlined in “Best Practices for Controlling Listeria monocytogenes in Retail Delicatessens.” Investigators will survey retailers about their cleaning and sanitizing to see if they are following the rules correctly.

The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that approximately 1,600 illnesses and 260 deaths due to listeriosis occur annually in the U.S. Pregnant women, older adults and people with weakened immune systems are most at risk. Listeria bacteria is most frequently associated with ready-to-eat foods (meat, poultry, seafood and dairy) and unpasteurized milk.

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