A new study funded by the Frozen Food Foundation and developed by Cornell researchers, including expert in microbial food safety Martin Wiedmann, has created a decision-making tool called the Frozen Food Listeria Lot Risk Assessment (The FFLLoRA).

“The goal of the research was to develop a tool for companies to assess individual production lot risks based on various scenarios,” said Cornell lead researchers Renata Ivanek and Wiedmann. “FFLLoRA helps interpret and evaluate finished-product testing results and may support food safety decisions to prevent recalls.”

The research paper explains that though frozen foods do not support the growth of Listeria monocytogenes, consumer preparation trends of certain types of frozen foods have contributed to the risk of foodborne listeriosis. This happens specifically when cooking instructions are not followed and frozen products are added directly to smoothies or salads.

Listeria survives freezing temperatures, it just doesn’t reproduce.

Cornell University

Highlights of the study’s results include:

  • Development of a tool for frozen food manufacturers to assess listeriosis risk
  • Found that scenarios of low-level L. monocytogenes in frozen vegetable did not typically result in illness
  • Listeriosis cases depended on model inputs related to consumer handling and initial concentration
  • Scenarios of more testing increased the probability of finding a contaminated lot and reduced risk

Cornell’s research on Listeria monocytogenes will continue in 2020 with the goal of understanding the prevalence of Listeria monocytogenes and how to assess it’s risks.

The full research paper can be seen here. 

The Frozen Food Foundation exists to foster scientific research, public awareness and industry education regarding the safety, nutritional and societal attributes of frozen foods for the benefit of the common good. The Frozen Food Foundation is affiliated with the American Frozen Food Institute.

About Listeria infections
Food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes may not look or smell spoiled but can still cause serious and sometimes life-threatening infections. Anyone who has eaten any recalled products and developed symptoms of Listeria infection should seek medical treatment and tell their doctors about the possible Listeria exposure.

Also, anyone who has eaten any of the recalled products should monitor themselves for symptoms during the coming weeks because it can take up to 70 days after exposure to Listeria for symptoms of listeriosis to develop.

Symptoms of Listeria infection can include vomiting, nausea, persistent fever, muscle aches, severe headache, and neck stiffness. Specific laboratory tests are required to diagnose Listeria infections, which can mimic other illnesses.

Pregnant women, the elderly, young children, and people such as cancer patients who have weakened immune systems are particularly at risk of serious illnesses, life-threatening infections, and other complications. Although infected pregnant women may experience only mild, flu-like symptoms, their infections can lead to premature delivery, infection of the newborn, or even stillbirth.

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