FDA has announced that it has worked with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to update the protocol for the development and registration of treatments for pre-harvest agricultural water to remove Listeria monocytogenes from the organism test panel.
FDA says that this change is being made because pilot studies have found that sanitizer treatments that will likely be effective for E. coli and Salmonella may be different from those that are most effective for L. monocytogenes. This is likely due to the physical characteristics of E. coli and Salmonella being distinctly different from those of L. monocytogenes. In light of recent outbreaks of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) and Salmonella linked to produce, FDA and EPA agreed and decided to move forward with removing this pathogen from the panel.
“We expect that doing so will facilitate the registration of antimicrobial treatments against STECs (and other E. coli) and Salmonella in pre-harvest agricultural water, the availability of which will be a significant resource for farms to protect their crops against these pathogens,” FDA said in a statement. “While we are removing L. monocytogenes from the protocol at this time, companies may opt to continue testing against L. monocytogenes for inclusion in their registration with EPA.
Recent outbreaks of foodborne illness associated with the consumption of romaine lettuce and other leafy greens have highlighted the need for a viable option for treating agricultural water against foodborne pathogens.