New Species of Listeria Will Test Workers Food Safety Protocols - Paster Training

New Species of Listeria Will Test Workers Food Safety Protocols

Scientists have discovered a new species of listeria, prompting the food safety industry to reexamine current health practices.

Although not as well known as salmonella, listeria is equally as harmful to humans. In some extreme cases, listeriosis can be deadly. As a preemptive measure to the discovery, select retail companies are recalling affected produce.

What do these new findings mean for the future of food safety? Read on to learn more.

History of Listeria

Listeria was first discovered in the early 20th century. The bacteria name, Listeria monocytogenes, pays homage to Joseph Lister; who pioneered sterility practices in surgical operations.

Although cases occurred periodically throughout the rest of the century, listeriosis wasn't a verified foodborne illness until outbreaks occurred in the 1980s. From that point on, the bacteria have been closely monitored in food production.

Although cases of this kind of bacterial poison are very rare, listeria has an uncanny ability to thrive in a wide range of environments. The bacteria has been found in soil-rich farmland and frozen beef products.

With a high mortality rate listeria must be closely monitored throughout all stages of food production.

A Discovery is Made

Earlier this year, scientists at Cornell University discovered five new strains of listeria. The findings now bring the total number of listeria species types to 26.

Although most of the species had characteristics similar to their listeria cousins, one species, in particular, was unique.

Motility, which is the ability for a bacteria to move, is a common quality of listeria species. When examined under a microscope, Listeria immobilis was totally immobile.

This uncharacteristic lack of mobility was a first for the Cornell scientists. They deemed a report to the wider public a necessary next step.

Future Impact on Food Safety

Some listeria are saprophytes, feeding on decaying organic matter. Other species a pathogenic, attacking living cells and causing infection.

Whether saprophyte or pathogen, scientists identify this species by its movement patterns. With the discovery of listeria immobilis, food safety protocols will need to be updated to account for this unusual species of bacteria.

Regulators will have to relearn how to detect and verify listeria presence in food production. Since the five new species are not entirely pathogenic, regulators will also need to learn how to discern between the harmful and harmless strains.

Until this occurs, there will be uncertainty in verifying listeria presence in food. Current tests of the bacteria may report false positives since they do not account for the new species.

Stay Informed

The discovery of a new listeria species may ring alarm bells for some, but there is a silver lining. Food workers will reexamine their safety measures to avoid future risks. Regulators will keep an even closer eye on tests.

Overall standards will improve; because they must.

Want to learn more? Check out our blog to keep your business informed of all things food safety.

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