Over time, things change in a processing plant and Listeria controls need to be validated regularly to ensure they remain effective. Data collected from regular verification should be input to this process. Consider any significant changes that may impact these controls and prompt re-validation of the controls. This typically includes changes in formulation, production processes, equipment, scientific information, staffing, and water (source or season).
Effective management of Listeria requires awareness of the particular characteristics of the organism and identification combined with ongoing diligent practice of valid controls to address its potential risks. Such actions must be verified and constantly assessed to ensure that they are continuing to make a difference.
The process of identifying and implementing the optimal measures needs to be reinitiated if there is sufficient evidence through swabbing or other data such as new information obtained from outbreaks, published research, or regulatory commentary that indicates a possible loss of control. Listeria control requires unwavering and strict attention to many factors to ensure that it remains effectively managed. Not to be discouraged, it’s challenging but essential.
As they say, the proof is in the pudding. Or in this case, what’s NOT in the pudding.
Dr. Petran is vice president, food safety and public health, at Ecolab. Reach her at Ruth.Petran@Ecolab.com.