U.S – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA’s FSIS) has released an updated version of its Best Practices Guidance for Controlling Listeria monocytogenes in Retail Delicatessens (Delis).

This revised guidance incorporates valuable insights from the FSIS retail L. monocytogenes focus group and the National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection (NACMPI).

The purpose of the updated guidance is to assist retailers in effectively controlling L. monocytogenes contamination in ready-to-eat (RTE) meat and poultry products prepared or sliced in delis and consumed at home.

It specifically focuses on popular items like deli meats and deli salads. The recommendations presented in the guideline draw from the Interagency Risk Assessment, which evaluates the risks associated with L. monocytogenes in commonly prepared and sold RTE foods in retail delis. It also considers the impact of practice changes on these risks.

The guidance incorporates various sources of information, including regulation of meat and poultry, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Food Code, scientific literature, guidance documents, FSIS verification sampling, and reviews of sanitation programs in meat and poultry processing establishments.

It provides insights into sources of L. monocytogenes, risk mitigation strategies, achieving active managerial control, and the eight most important recommendations for retail deli operations.

The updated version introduces notable revisions to the previous guidance. It eliminates the recommendation for retailers to rotate sanitizers while incorporating three new sections: “Sources of Listeria in Retail Firms,” “Active Managerial Control,” and “Risk Mitigation of Listeria monocytogenes in Retail Firms.”

Additionally, the Interagency Risk Assessment findings and Deli Self-Assessment Tool have been relocated, and a glossary has been added for better clarity and understanding.

Continued focus on food safety

With this updated guidance, the USDA’s FSIS aims to enhance food safety practices in retail delis, particularly concerning the control of L. monocytogenes.

By incorporating the latest findings, recommendations, and insights, the USDA strives to ensure that retailers have the necessary tools and knowledge to minimize the risk of L. monocytogenes contamination in RTE meat and poultry products.

The USDA remains committed to safeguarding public health by ensuring the highest standards of food safety in delis, processing establishments, and retail operations.

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