- Although an uncommon cause of illness in the general population, Listeria monocytogenes is an important cause of severe infections in neonates, pregnant women, the elderly, transplant recipients and other patients with impaired cell‐mediated immunity.
- Food manufacturing facilities must use well thought out Listeria environmental swabbing programs to detect and eliminate the organism from their environment.
- Listeria swabbing programs have been a normal routine for USDA meat facilities for over 20 years, and are starting to take off in FDA facilities, given the new FDA draft guidance released in 2017 that specifies the importance of environmental monitoring.
- USDA facilities have learned that having a strategic focus when it comes to Listeria swabbing, is much more informative than just a random generator of selected swab sites.
- From in-depth training of the swabbing group to strategic food contact and non-contact swabbing sites to total line teardown and corrective action after a Listeria positive is uncovered, the whole program must work together to yield successful outcomes.
Dawn Pickett, Corporate Senior Director of Food Safety, Smithfield Foods