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Dairy Facts 2016

FDA Committee Calls for Policy Changes Regarding Listeria Monocytogenes

Dec 16, 2015

The Food Advisory Committee (FAC) of the Food and Drug Administration met last week to review the agency’s policies and guidance for Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) in food and to propose new recommendations. In what may be the most significant outcome for IDFA members, the committee said FDA should change its current policy regarding how a firm should react to a single positive finding of bacteria of the genus Listeria, not specifically the species Listeria monocytogenes, on a food-contact surface.

This recommendation supports IDFA’s stance that such a change in policy would allow the industry to be more aggressive in seeking out and destroying Listeria in the food production environment before it is able to find its way into food products. 

The committee also recommended FDA establish a zero-tolerance policy regarding Listeria monocytogenes for all ready-to-eat foods, regardless of whether they support the growth of Lm. The committee suggested that the priority ranking for FDA regulatory activities, however, should remain the same, where foods that support the growth of Lm should receive higher priority in sampling, recall classifications and enforcement actions than foods that don’t support growth. Higher priority also would apply to facilities with wide distribution throughout the country, as compared to smaller, regional facilities and companies.

Noting the importance of consumer education, the committee called for FDA to partner with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to develop unified guidance for healthcare professionals who can help to inform women, seniors and those with compromised immune systems about the risks associated with Listeria monocytogenes in food. The committee also proposed new research to determine the educational methods, tools and techniques that would be most effective in helping consumers to adopt good food safety and food preparation practices.

Members interested in more details may log in to read “Food Advisory Committee (FAC) Recommendations, Topic: Addressing Listeria Monocytogenes in Ready-To-Eat Foods (RTE).” 

The FAC is one of several FDA advisory committees comprising outside experts who provide advice and recommendations to the agency on various regulatory, technical and scientific issues.

Members with questions may contact John Allan, IDFA vice president of regulatory affairs and international standards, at

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