Food safety and quality

JEMRA continues to assess the risk of Listeria monocytogenes


FAO hosted the Joint FAO/WHO expert meeting on microbiological risk assessment (JEMRA) of Listeria monocytogenes in foods this October in Rome.  “It was such a pleasure to have the JEMRA back with in-person meetings again in the meeting room we used to convene the meeting. The experts could overcome the challenges of meeting in different time zones and sit together to discuss the topic fully with great focus and efficiency,” said Kang Zhou, Food Safety Officer from FAO.

FAO and WHO recognize the seriousness of Listeria infections, particularly for those most at risk. In 2004, JEMRA experts delivered a risk assessment to support Codex in developing guidelines for the control of Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat foods.

Even with best practices in use, outbreaks of listeriosis continue to occur across the globe, with some linked to previously unreported food vehicles, such as leafy greens, melons, frozen vegetables and ready-to-eat fish.

Following the recommendations from JEMRA in 2021, Codex is now looking to update the international guidance on Listeria monocytogenes. For this, JEMRA assembled leading food microbiologists and subject matter experts from around the world to reach consensus on the best advice, based on the latest and greatest science.

When asked about the outcomes of the JEMRA meeting, Dr Laurent Guiller, the meeting Chair, said “We have had a very productive week of meetings that has allowed us to develop the structure of four listeriosis risk assessment models. For three of them, the starting point is the contamination by Listeria monocytogenes at the primary production stage.

“We also worked collectively to establish a method to integrate genomic data. The expert group’s approach is flexible,” he explained, “It opens the way for different users around the world, with different levels of information, to evaluate the effectiveness of control measures along the production chain up to consumption.”

The scientific advice and expert recommendations generated from this meeting are summarized in the report found here.

For more information on JEMRA work related to Listeria:

Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat (RTE) foods: attribution, characterization and monitoring (MRA 38)

Risk assessment of Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat foods: Technical report (MRA 5)

Risk assessment of Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat foods: Interpretative summary (MRA 4)

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