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EU and US control measures on Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella spp. in certain ready-to-eat meat products: An equivalence study

Neri, Diana, Antoci, Salvatore, Iannetti, Luigi, Ciorba, Anna Beatrice, D'Aurelio, Roberta, Del Matto, Ilaria, Di Leonardo, Meri, Giovannini, Armando, Prencipe, Vincenza Annunziata, Pomilio, Francesco, Santarelli, Gino Angelo, Migliorati, Giacomo
Food control 2019 v.96 pp. 98-103
European Union, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella, adulterated products, beverages, certification, exports, food inspection, food safety, pork, ready-to-eat foods, safety standards, zero tolerance, United States
European Union (EU) and United States (US) regulations implement different food safety standards, particularly relating to the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in certain ready-to-eat (RTE) meat products. Compared to EU, the US adopt different procedures and methods, and establish zero tolerance limits to ensure consumers protection from Listeria monocytogenes in RTE products. A complete equivalence evaluation of the EU and US food inspection and certification systems has not been carried out yet. This study was funded by the Italian Central Competent Authority in the field of food safety (Ministry of Health) and included a total of 164 Italian establishments, 81 authorized for export of pork meat products to US (“US establishments”) and 83 only authorized for EU internal trade (“EU establishments”). Establishments were stratified according to production volume, type of RTE products manufactured, presentation and processing, in order to include two homogeneous groups (US and EU). Sampling was carried out by NAS (Carabinieri Corps for the prevention of the adulteration of beverages and foodstuffs) without any given notice. Sampling, detection and identification of Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella spp. took place according to US Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) directives and procedures. All 1124 samples tested negative for Salmonella spp., while 5 samples tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes. Among the latter, 4 samples were collected in 3 US establishments (US products prevalence 4/556 = 0.72%, 95% CL: 0.29–1.83%; US establishments prevalence 3/81 = 3.70%, 95% CL: 1.34–10.32%) and 1 was collected in a EU establishment (EU products prevalence 1/568 = 0.18%, 95% CL: 0.04–0.98%; EU establishment prevalence 1/83 = 1.20%, 95% CL: 0.29–0.46%). Bilateral Fisher's exact test showed no differences between EU and US products and establishments prevalence (P = 0.213 and P = 0.364, respectively), corroborating the existence of equivalent Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella spp. contamination in the products under these two control systems.