The Produce Marketing Association (PMA) and United Fresh Produce Association are collaborating to address produce-specific challenges surrounding Listeria monocytogenes (Lm).
While both organizations have been working with their respective members on individual projects related to reducing the risk of produce-associated foodborne illnesses from Lm, additional areas exist where a joint effort will result in greater efficiency and a more meaningful impact within the fresh produce industry.
The group’s initial meeting took place September 13 in Washington DC during United Fresh’s Washington Conference; a second meeting is planned for October during PMA’s Fresh Summit Conference & Expo in Orlando FL.
The PMA-United Fresh Joint Lm Working Group aims to improve food safety by decreasing the risk of Lm associated with fresh produce through collaboration in these areas:
•Policy—Advocate for sound science and risk-based US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Lm policy through joint review of forthcoming FDA draft guidance and alignment of comments to FDA.
•Research—Identify produce-specific Lm research needs and inform competitive research funding sources, including the US Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the Center for Produce Safety.
•Information sharing—Amplify and make readily available new cutting-edge Lm research learnings and education resources—such as PMA’s Listeria Resource Page—as well as inform content development of the associations’ educational outreach efforts, such as United Fresh’s upcoming equipment sanitary design summit for the fresh-cut produce industry.
Both associations are also members of the Alliance for Listeriosis Prevention (ALP), a coalition of trade groups representing all sectors of the food industry. ALP is working collaboratively to advocate for sound FDA regulatory policy and serve as means to share information about new developments in Listeriosis prevention across food industry sectors.
The general guidelines recommended for the prevention of Listeriosis are similar to those used to help prevent other foodborne illnesses, such as salmonellosis. In addition, there are specific recommendations for persons at higher risk for Listeriosis. Recommendations related to Listeria in melons, including cantaloupes, are also included on this page.
There are some general recommendations on how to prevent an infection with Listeria, and some additional recommendations specifically for persons who are at higher risk.
General recommendations to prevent an infection with Listeria:
FDA recommendations for washing and handling food.
•Rinse raw produce, such as fruits and vegetables, thoroughly under running tap water before eating, cutting, or cooking. Even if the produce will be peeled, it should still be washed first.
•Scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean produce brush.
•Dry the produce with a clean cloth or paper towel.
•Separate uncooked meats and poultry from vegetables, cooked foods, and ready-to-eat foods.
PMA is the leading trade association representing companies from every segment of the global produce and floral supply chain. For more details, go to www.pma.com.
Founded in 1904, United Fresh brings together companies across every segment of the fresh produce supply chain, including growers, shippers, fresh-cut processors, wholesalers, distributors, retailers, foodservice operators, industry suppliers, and allied associations. See www.unitedfresh.org for more information.