U.S – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently concluded a comprehensive sampling assignment focused on ready-to-eat (RTE) dips and spreads to assess the presence of Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella. The objective was to identify common factors contributing to contamination and utilize these findings to shape FDA guidance and program priorities.
Prompted by multiple recalls of hummus and multi-commodity dips between 2017 and 2020, associated with L. monocytogenes or Salmonella contamination, the FDA took action. These recalls resulted in 43 confirmed cases of foodborne illnesses, including 27 hospitalizations and three miscarriages.
The sampling assignment was conducted between March 2021 and January 2022. The FDA collected and tested a total of 747 samples, primarily from domestic sources, with a focus on obtaining samples from different brands and manufacturers.
The samples were obtained from various stages of the supply chain, including manufacturers and processors (9.9%), distributors and warehouses (16.5%), and retail operations (73.6%).
To enhance the chances of detecting pathogens even when their presence is low or unevenly distributed, the FDA collected 10-30 subsamples per sample, all from the same lot.
Each subsample consisted of at least 8 ounces from a single container. In total, the FDA collected around 11,400 subsamples.
During the analysis, the FDA detected Salmonella Havana in a hummus sample collected from a retail establishment in California.
Additionally, Listeria monocytogenes was found in three multi-commodity samples (two cheese samples and one cheese and pepper sample) collected from a retail establishment in Colorado. All three contaminated samples were traced back to the same manufacturer.
Through whole genome sequencing (WGS), the FDA determined that the isolated Salmonella and L. monocytogenes strains did not match any clinical, product, or environmental samples.
Upon discovering the contamination, the FDA collaborated with the manufacturers to remove the affected products from the market. Furthermore, the agency submitted the WGS data of the pathogenic Salmonella and L. monocytogenes strains to the national GenomeTrakr database.
Based on the findings, the FDA underscores the critical role of food business operators in adhering to Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs), Hazards Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP), and the Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food Rule.
The agency highlights the persistent risk of contamination, pointing out the 22 recalls of dips and spreads due to potential Salmonella or L. monocytogenes contamination between 2017 and 2022.
The FDA’s sampling assignment sheds light on the presence of Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella in RTE dips and spreads.
The agency’s focus on collaboration with manufacturers and the sharing of WGS data underscores their commitment to ensuring food safety. It is crucial for food business operators to implement and maintain stringent preventive measures to minimize the risk of contamination in these products.