The FSANZ (Food Standards for Australia and New Zealand) has recently announced a call to review the established criteria for healthy limits of listeria monocytogenes
as stated in the current national food safety codes.
New limits have been put into practice on an international level and requirements dictating proper preventative procedure in regards to safety and health are shifting as a result. FSANZ agrees that it’s time for them to begin reviewing the codes themselves in order to rewrite them accordingly in order to meet the new standards.
The first order of business is assessing and regulating the allowed levels of listeria organisms in ready-to-eat foods commonly consumed by Australian and New Zealand citizens. FZANZ officials are starting by regulating definitions in regards to what the official definition of a ready-to-eat food product actually is and proceeding from there into the future.
As for the reasoning behind why ready-to-eat meals were of the utmost concern to FZANZ, Dr. Duncan Craig (principal FZANZ microbiologist) had this to say in a recent interview with Food Magazine.
“The higher risk products for listeria are ready to eat products. We are particularly concerned about products that have a long shelf life and which are kept refrigerated for a long time.”
Listeria infection can cause serious illness in any individual, but those at the highest risk for the most severe complications are elderly individuals, young children, pregnant women, and individuals with immune systems that have been compromised for any reason.
The best way to avoid consuming foods possibly contaminated with listeria is to stick to food that has been freshly prepared and cooked recently. The bacterium is most likely to exist in items such as cold meats, unpasteurized dairy products, and chilled seafood.