NSW hosts food safety summit into Listeria

Posted by Josette Dunn on 9th July 2010

A food safety summit featuring international guest speakers and the State Government’s top food safety scientists will focus on the prevention of Listeria, a common bacteria found in the food processing environment that can have potentially fatal effects, Primary Industries Minister Steve Whan said on Wednesday.The Summit was hosted by the NSW Food Authority and processed meat and poultry industries, and was held in Sydney yesterday, Thursday 8 July.

“It represents a real commitment by the NSW Government and industry to continuously seek out best practice in managing food safety,” Minister Whan said.

“Listeria can be present in ready to eat meat products such as salami and sliced meats and ready to eat meals such as chicken wraps and salads. The risk can be managed by good manufacturing and processing practices.

“This summit is an opportunity for industry to learn about the latest technologies available to them in the prevention and control of Listeria, it’s an exciting chance for them to broaden their knowledge base, which in turn protects the health of the wider public.

“Many people would be familiar with the dangers of Listeria following the unfortunate outbreak incident in Canada in 2008 where 22 people lost their lives.

“There have been several incidents of Listeria outbreaks in Australia so it is imperative manufacturers and retailers understand and comply with all requirements when producing, displaying and selling ready to eat foods.”

Minister Whan said the vast majority of NSW businesses did the right thing when it came to food safety and took the issue of public health very seriously.

“We’re fortunate to enjoy that level of cooperation from industry and the support of industry associations and bodies when it comes to learning more about preventing foodborne illness outbreaks,” Minister Whan said.

The Listeria Safety Summit features two keynote speakers from the USA, Dr Peter Bodnaruk and Dr John Butts.

“These men are leaders in the international field when it comes to food safety and have literally been at the front line of major Listeria outbreaks in the USA,” Minister Whan said.

“Their contribution and expertise will be a welcome addition and will enable us to build upon our own knowledge of Listeria prevention and ensure we can put into practice lessons learned overseas.

Listeria bacteria occur widely in nature and can multiply quickly in raw or contaminated food.