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Ready-to-eat foods.

Ready-to-eat foods are probably the major source of listeriosis, according to the FDA. To reach this conclusion, researchers surveyed 23 categories of ready-to-eat foods based on their potential for contamination. Their projections show an estimated 390 deaths a year due to listeriosis, with 307 of them among people aged 60 or older. Pregnant women and the immunocompromised are also particularly at risk from the disease. The surveys are based on thousands of samples served. But the total intake of ready-to-eat foods adds up to about 340 billion a year, so the samples would indicate that large numbers of the population are consuming some L. monocytogenes. The summary of exposure, with sample occurrences extrapolated across the total population, shows that about 1,300 ready-to-eat servings per person a year containing no L. monocytogenes are consumed. Nineteen servings per person a year contain up to 1,000 CFUs per g of Listeria monocytogenes (an average consumption of once every three weeks per person). An average of almost one serving per person a year contains at least 1 million colony-forming units per gram, considered a high level of the pathogen. Contact: Richard Whiting, FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, 5100 Paint Branch Parkway, College Park, MD 20740. Phone: 301-436-1925. Fax: 301-436-2632. Email:
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Publication:Microbial Update International
Date:Aug 1, 2004
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