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Codex confirms “alternative approach” for listeria monocytogenes in ready to eat food

From Food Production Daily - The Codex Alimentarius Commission has moved quickly to clarify a newly ratified standard on permitted levels of listeria monocytogenes (Lm) in ready-to-eat (RTE) food after being challenged by the UK’s Chilled Food Association (CFA).

On Monday, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and World Health Organisation (WHO) released a statement summarizing the main provisions of some of 30 new safety measures targeting dangerous bacteria and chemicals - including listeria monocytogenes in RTE products

The joint announcement from the UN bodies triggered alarm in the RTE industry after saying that while a maximum level of listeria has been set for certain foods where the bacteria cannot grow, a zero tolerance approach had been adopted in RTE products where growth of the bacteria was possible.

The announcement failed to mention, however, a third additional measure contained in the detailed Codex document allowing for an “Alternative approach” to zero tolerance to be taken. This stipulation, agreed at a Codex Committee for Food Hygiene (CCFH) meeting in Guatemala last December, gives individual countries the flexibility to extend the maximum level of 100 colony forming units (cfu)/g across the board to include foods where growth of the bacteria can occur.

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