Washington, DC, April 6, 2011 – The American Meat Institute Foundation (AMIF) and the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) Foundation announced they will provide funding to support research to develop practical and feasible control strategies for Listeria monyocytogenes in retail delicatessens.

     Listeria monocytogenes is a pathogenic bacteria that can be found in virtually all environments including retail stores and in the home. Although not a frequent cause of foodborne illness, when it occurs, it can result in serious infections and death in susceptible people. Control of Listeria monocytogenes represents a particular challenge due to the common presence and persistence of the bacteria within the environment.

            The research will be headed by Haley F. Oliver, Ph.D, assistant professor, Department of Food Science, Purdue University. Martin Wiedmann, Ph.D., associate professor in Cornell University Department of Food Science, will collaborate on the project.

     “We are pleased to fund this important project with our retail customers through FMI,” said AMI Foundation President James H. Hodges. “This important project will help us continue our work to reduce and ultimately eliminate Listeria on ready-to-eat meat and poultry products.”

The support from AMIF and the FMI Foundation complements funding provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS). This funding will enable researchers to develop and evaluate control strategies for Listeria monocytogenes in retail delis.

“Supermarkets are committed to continually improve food safety practices to protect our customers and provide the safest food possible. This research will help us identify practical, science-based ways to control Listeria,” said FMI Senior Vice President of Food Safety Jill Hollingsworth, DVM. “Collaboration among trading partners, universities and the USDA is the best way to achieve our common goal of reducing foodborne illness.”   

     Supermarkets will voluntarily participate in the multi-stage study. Phases of the research project include:

  • Identify target locations where L. monocytogenes is likely to be found or may be able to persist in the retail environment.

  • Develop and implement practical control strategies that may effectively reduce L. monocytogenes in retail deli environments and prevent potential cross-contamination.

  • Verify the efficacy of the control strategies through follow-up testing.

#   #   #

AMI represents the interests of packers and processors of beef, pork, lamb, veal and turkey products and their suppliers throughout North America. Together, AMI’s members produce 95 percent of the beef, pork, lamb and veal products and 70 percent of the turkey products in the United States. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the Institute provides legislative, regulatory, public relations, technical, scientific and educational services to the industry. Its affiliate, the AMI Foundation, is a separate 501(c)3 organization that conducts research, education and information projects for the industry.

Food Marketing Institute (FMI) conducts programs in public affairs, food safety, research, education and industry relations on behalf of its 1,500 member companies — food retailers and wholesalers — in the United States and around the world. FMI’s U.S. members operate approximately 26,000 retail food stores and 14,000 pharmacies. Their combined annual sales volume of $680 billion represents three-quarters of all retail food store sales in the United States. FMI’s retail membership is composed of large multi-store chains, regional firms and independent supermarkets. Its international membership includes 200 companies from more than 50 countries. FMI’s associate members include the supplier partners of its retail and wholesale members.