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Cornell researchers develop Listeria risk assessment tool

The Frozen Food Foundation has funded a new study, developed by Cornell researchers. One of the researchers is Martin Wiedmann, an expert in microbial food safety. The study 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 paper finds that consumer habits with regard to frozen food can sometime contribute to the risk of foodborne listeriosis. For example, not following the cooking instructions on frozen foods and instead adding them into smoothies or salads directly. Listeria isn’t killed by freezing temperatures, and so it remains potentially harmful if instructions are disregarded.

Highlights of the study’s results include the development of a tool for frozen food manufacturers to assess listeriosis risk. The study also found that scenarios of low-level L. monocytogenes in frozen vegetable did not typically result in illness. Furthermore, findings showed that 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 its risks.


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