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Criteria for Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat foods

(August 2014)

New criteria for Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat (RTE) foods were gazetted in the Food Standards Code on 31 July 2014. 

Two sets of criteria for L. monocytogenes now apply based on whether growth of L. monocytogenes will or will not occur in the RTE food:
  • RTE foods in which growth of L. monocytogenes will not occur (less than 100cfu/g).
  • RTE foods in which growth of L. monocytogenes will occur (not detected in 25g).
This approach is risk-based and has been informed by improved scientific knowledge about the factors affecting the risk of acquiring listeriosis. 

It is consistent with international approaches, including Codex guidelines and recognises that L. monocytogenes is able to grow to high numbers in some foods and should not be present at detectable levels if the food is to be kept safe. In other foods, where we know the pathogen cannot grow, there is a possibility for occasional low level detections that will not affect the safety of the food.

Guidance document

FSANZ has developed Guidance on the application of microbiological criteria for Listeria monocytogenes in RTE food​ to assist enforcement agencies and producers of RTE food. The guidance includes a decision tree to help decide what limit applies. 

More information

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