In the food industry, the strategy to controlling Listeria monocytogenes is largely focused on risk mitigation driven by robust surveillance and sanitation programs. There are three key components to effectively controlling Listeria in a food processing environment:
- Extensive and frequent monitoring and sanitation since Listeria monocytogenes typically thrives in meat plants;
- The use of growth inhibitors, such as lactate/diacetate, to keep Listeria from multiplying over the course of the shelf life of ready-to-eat meat products. Growth inhibitors provide a safety net and reduce the risk of harmful bacteria growing to dangerous levels.
- A final post-process, such as ultra-high hydrostatic pressure (UHP or HHP) or post-packaging pasteurization, can also be used to ensure a reduced risk of contamination.
In September 2008, Health Canada approved the use of lactate/diacetate as a growth inhibitor in certain preparations of meat, poultry, and fish products. The new regulation allows meat processors to re-formulate ready-to-eat products with a combination of lactate and diacetate as an antimicrobial, aimed primarily at controlling the growth of Listeria monocytogenes. This combination of anti-listerial agents has been widely studied and the data indicates it can be very effective at controlling growth in all or most ready-to-eat meat products.
Maple Leaf Foods Approach to Inhibiting Listeria Growth
Maple Leaf Foods has elected to add potassium lactate and sodium diacetate to their ready-to-eat products to protect against the growth of listeria and other pathogens.
Advantages of using lactate/diacetate:
- Lactate/diacetate is tested and 100% safe for consumption! It has been used in the USA for over nine years
- Commonly used in the USA, about 70% of all cured meats contain lactate/diacetate
- It is a simple ingredient found in many common foods like cheese and potato chips
- It is not an allergen
- It protects against bacterial growth after packaging is opened. It is important to be aware that using UHP/HPP alone without the use of listeria inhibitors does not protect the product once the package has been opened; only lactate/diacetate provides this protection
- It is an affordable method allowing product prices to remain relatively consistent