Listeria guidance aims to reduce risk of illness

New guidelines delivered by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) aim to help healthcare and social care organisations reduce the risk of vulnerable persons contracting listeria. 

Listeriosis is a foodborne illness that is caused by the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes and, although rare, can cause serious illness and even death in vulnerable groups.

The guidance has been designed to help organisations take steps in reducing the risk of listeria in ready-to-eat foods and to complement good practice in the food industry.

The report warned: “Food must be protected from contamination from delivery of the goods into the organisation through to service of the food to the patient/resident.”

Key sources of Listeria monocytogenes contamination are:
•    Dirt and soil including dirty premises, equipment and cleaning equipment
•    Food handlers
•    Raw foods
•    Food preparation equipment and utensils
•    Water
•    Condensate from air cooling units
•    Drains and drainage gulleys
•    Areas prone to pooling water

Organisations must have effective procedures in place for personal hygiene. Employees within a workforce, who have an infection that can be passed on through food, are by law required to be excluded from work.

Other areas that the report covers include: control of contamination; control of growth; management controls and legislation.

The initiative was a combination of collaborative work between stakeholders, including the Hospital Caterers Association and the National Association of Care Caterers.

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