Practical control of Listeria during food production

Phil Voysey, Microbiology Group Manager

Listeria monocytogenes is a microorganism that creates serious food safety concerns due to its ability to cause food poisoning in humans and high mortality rate.

In this video microbiology group manager Dr Phil Voysey explains:

Dr Voysey also discusses a project at Campden BRI that will help industry control L. monocytogenes in the food production environment.


Listeria is a genus of bacteria. Only one species of this genus Listeria monocytogenes can cause food poisoning in humans. It's a serious food safety concern in food production. Typically, there are approximately a hundred and fifty cases of listeriosis in England and Wales per year. However, the mortality rate for this pathogen is high at 20 to 30 percent of cases.

The elderly and unborn or newly born babies are most vulnerable to the disease the Listeria monocytogenes is found in the general environment and can be associated with most food types. It's especially of concern with chilled ready-to-eat foods such as cooked meats as it can grow albeit slowly at chilled temperatures, it can inhabit and persist in the food production environment as it thrives in conditions where there's plenty of water and it can also produce protective mechanisms for example biofilms to help it survive. These characteristics enable Listeria and Listeria monocytogenes to cross-contaminate foods that have undergone a process to eradicate vegetative pathogens, such as cooking, and so it can pose challenges to food manufacturers.

Over the years reports and guidance documents have been written by various organisations offering advice on how to control Listeria monocytogenes in the food production. Environment utilising the experience of staff at Camden BRI and its membership, Camden BRI have started a two-year project to summarise and consolidate key approaches and tools to controlling Listeria in a guideline. This document is intended to be a one-stop-shop for industry accepted approaches. The advice and information in the guideline, for example cleaning and handling practices, will be supported by advice including troubleshooting assistance from Campden BRI.

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