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Persistence of microbiological hazards in food and feed production and processing environments

Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella enterica, and Cronobacter sakazakii are identified as the most significant bacterial food safety hazards in various sectors, including meat, fish, seafood, dairy, fruits, vegetables, feed, eggs, and low moisture foods. These hazards can persist in the food and feed processing environment (FFPE) due to inadequate zoning, hygiene barriers, equipment design, and cleaning practices.

Key Points:

  • Specific subtypes of these hazards exhibit persistence in the FFPE, but universal markers for this trait are not currently identified.
  • Environmental sampling and testing programs are crucial for identifying contamination sources and detecting persistent hazards.
  • Establishing hygienic barriers and measures within the food safety management system is essential to prevent and control bacterial persistence in the FFPE.
  • A “seek-and-destroy” approach is recommended when persistence is suspected, involving intensified monitoring, control measures, and continued vigilance.
  • Successful interventions against L. monocytogenes persistence include intensified monitoring and interventions with direct bactericidal activity.
  • Risk assessments are needed to evaluate the public health risk associated with persistence in specific hazard and food sector combinations.

Overall, addressing bacterial persistence in the FFPE requires a comprehensive approach involving preventive measures, targeted interventions, and ongoing monitoring to ensure food safety.

Source: EFSA Journal