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Case study: Listeria Right Now lets health food producer bring testing in-house

After a Listeria incident within its facility, a New Zealand-based food producer was looking for a way to better detect Listeria within its environment.

The company, which produces healthy and convenient plant-based meals, chose Neogen’s Listeria Right Now environmental test as the best solution for its needs. Because it does not require an enrichment step, the test allowed the company to bring Listeria testing entirely on-site without the concern for growing pathogens in-house, resulting in an even quicker time-to-result.

“With the ability to test in-house, we were able to significantly increase the amount of testing and quickly identify the sources of Listeria to gain an understanding of how widespread the issue was,” said the company’s quality assurance manager.

Faster environmental testing

Not only was the company able to test entirely within its own facility, it was able to do so with a speed traditional methods couldn’t offer: under one hour from when the sample was taken.

“The rapid one-hour test allowed us to target our cleaning and confirm effectiveness in real-time, helping ensure we were getting maximum value from our cleaning,” the manager said. “Listeria Right Now is now a critical part of our internal Listeria monitoring program, allowing us to monitor our sites on a daily basis and respond appropriately on the same day.”

Thanks to Listeria Right Now’s ease-of-use — the test can be carried out by a single person and doesn’t require an enrichment step — the company has trained its entire laboratory staff to use it, providing more flexibility than before.

“With the system, we now have an increased amount of data allowing us to trend the results and give us a high level of confidence in our Listeria management program,” said the manager. “I do not believe we would have had this high level of confidence if we were solely relying on external test results.”

Selling the system

Convincing upper management to consider Listeria Right Now was relatively simple.

“To tell you the truth, it was not difficult to sell the purchasing of the unit to upper management because of the situation we were in,” the manager said. To try and manage a prior Listeria situation, the manager’s team had previously borrowed a Listeria Right Now system and found that the test was a key factor in getting the situation under control — therefore limiting product loss.

Listeria Right Now proved to be a powerful tool in identifying the original source of the bacteria within the facility at a time when tracing the source was difficult. The test also allowed the company to get ahead of potential future outbreaks and lock down on potential Listeria niches.

“If you know or have reason to believe Listeria could be in your factory, or if you know there’s a chance the bacteria could enter via raw materials, you need a comprehensive Listeria monitoring program in place,” said the manager. “Because of the increased monitoring, Neogen’s Listeria Right Now allows you to build a good picture of where the high-risk areas of your facility are, which allows effective management of those areas. This allows maximum flexibility and increased monitoring that is still cost-effective.”

The manager is certain that the test system has helped the company avoid other Listeria issues and that it will help other companies keep their brand and consumers safe too.

“I believe effective use of Neogen’s Listeria Right Now goes a long way toward avoiding Listeria outbreaks,” the manager said. “In the event of an outbreak, you need to move very quickly to get an understanding of how widespread the issue is, and to identify potential spots within your facility that you may be re-infecting from. Listeria Right Now allows you to do this in a way that external laboratories don’t, giving you the chance to shut down the outbreak in a timely and effective manner.”

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