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Listeria Control in Fresh and Minimally Processed Produce

This one day course will provide a basic understanding of Listeria with particular focus on its importance in fresh and minimally processed produce.

Listeria monocytogenes has long been a human pathogen of concern in the food industry, in particular among manufacturers of ready-to-eat sliced meats, raw milk, and soft cheeses. Unlike other human pathogens that can be transmitted through food, Listeria can grow in continuous wet and cool food production environments where it can survive for years or decades. Though rare, L. monocytogenes infections can cause serious illness or even death. A recent succession of recalls or outbreaks traced to Listeria-contaminated fresh and minimally processed fruits and vegetables (e.g. cucumber, celery, onions, cantaloupe, tree fruit, caramel apples) have alerted the produce industry of the importance of taking all possible measures to prevent contamination with this pathogen.

Course Details
This one day course will provide a basic understanding of Listeria with particular focus on its importance in fresh and minimally processed produce. Sources of Listeria and mechanisms for controlling it in food packing, storage, and fresh-cut processing operations will be discussed. Lectures will be presented that include principles of facilities and equipment sanitary design, wash water sanitization, cleaning and sanitizing food-contact and non-food contact surfaces, and the basics of developing a microbial sampling and testing program.

Who Should Attend
This workshop is designed for those who pack, wash, and store fresh produce (e.g. whole tree fruits, melons, leafy greens) or who further minimally process produce (e.g. sliced apples, fresh-cut salad vegetables). The information presented will be useful for individuals in plant operations, quality control, maintenance, and sanitation roles. Individuals in the vegetable freezing industry will also find it useful for preventing post blanch contamination with Listeria. Regulators and educators are also invited to attend.