The FAO and WHO want data and experts to help with work related to Listeria monocytogenes.

A Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO) assessment will support Codex’s revision of Listeria guidelines.

The Joint Expert Meeting on Microbiological Risk Assessment (JEMRA) will do a risk assessment of Listeria in foods.

The assessment will include but not be limited to leafy greens, cantaloupe (also called rockmelon), frozen vegetables such as peas and corn and ready-to-eat seafood that permits the growth of Listeria like gravad (sugar-salt marinated) salmon and halibut.

Need for updated assessment
Since past FAO and WHO work, outbreaks of listeriosis continue to occur and are being linked to previously unreported food vehicles, including fresh and minimally processed fruits and vegetables.

In 2020, JEMRA met to talk about Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat food, review recent data and assess the need to modify or develop new risk assessment models and tools for this pathogen.

The expert group recommended extending future risk assessments to diverse commodity sub-groups and to consider a farm-to-fork assessment. They identified several gaps in the current risk assessment model and agreed that updating it would help inform risk analysis strategies, including in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

A proposal that JEMRA do a farm-to-table risk assessment on Listeria monocytogenes was supported by the Codex Committee on Food Hygiene in March 2022. FAO and WHO have decided to hold an expert meeting on this topic that will inform possible future revision of Codex guidelines on food hygiene to control Listeria in food.

Chosen experts will participate in a meeting on the microbiological risk assessment on Listeria monocytogenes in foods and may be added to the JEMRA roster that is valid for future work until Dec. 31, 2022. Selection of participants will begin on June 30, 2022 and continue until enough suitable candidates are identified.

Data needs
FAO and WHO also want information on Listeria monocytogenes in food such as the availability of risk assessment models and tools, surveillance data on Listeria in foods and listeriosis outbreaks plus exposure assessment and hazard characterization data.

Data can come from governments, the food industry, academia, consumer groups, laboratories, health care providers and other interested organizations. These details can be submitted at any point until Sept. 1, 2022.

FAO and WHO also recently launched a call for experts and data covering Salmonella and Campylobacter in poultry meat. Selection of experts begins in June. Data can be submitted at any point up to Sept. 1, 2022.

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