Romania tightens food safety measures after repeated Listeria outbreaks

After multiple, repeated recalls of fish products due to Listeria contamination, Romanian food safety experts have tightened their control measures in order to get to the bottom of the situation.

So far in 2019, there have been eight recalls for Listeria in salmon, with no reported illnesses, according to Food Safety News. The first incident was in January and recalls from a number of different brands sold at different retailers have continued well into February.

Following the initial recalls, the National Sanitary Veterinary and Food Safety Authority requested increased sampling be conducted from finished product, packaging and the production environment. Test results indicated the presence of Listeria monocytogenes (L. mono), a particularly persistent strain of the foodborne pathogen, in finished products from two different processing centers. Product was detained, and fines were issued.

About Listeria monocytogenes

The strain involved in the flurry of Romanian recalls, L. mono, is a difficult one for food processors to deal with due to its persistence and tendency to nestle into hard-to-target niches. The hardy bacteria can adapt well to a wide variety of environments, including cold temperatures, and can readily colonize on most surfaces.

Listeria is the deadliest foodborne pathogen affecting European consumers, according to a recent report from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and the European Food Safety Authority. Reports of Listeria infection have increased over the past five years, unlike other foodborne pathogens.

It can take two to three weeks for listeriosis symptoms to show up in infected individuals, which can hamper traceback investigations during outbreaks, as it becomes difficult to figure out what the infected person has eaten. While most people who get sick recover after a few days of usual food poisoning symptoms (diarrhea, nausea, fever, muscle aches), L. mono infections can progress rapidly to life-threatening sepsis faster than most other foodborne pathogens. For these reasons, food manufacturers adhere to strict sanitation and testing programs to reduce the likelihood that L. mono will reach products that enter the food chain.

To learn about Neogen’s global solutions for L. mono testing and Listeria control programs, check out our website.

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