Listeria Update and Awareness

April 1, 2022

By Jill Hollingsworth, VP, Food Safety and Retail Industry Relations, Ecolab

A report released by FDA and a recent recall serve to remind us of the high priority we need to place on controlling Listeria monocytogenes in the retail environment. Let’s take a closer look at these two events.  

FDA Avocado Assignment 

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released the findings from a sampling assignment that collected and tested processed avocado and guacamole from November 2017 to September 2019. The assignment sought to estimate the prevalence of Salmonella spp. and Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) in these products. FDA tested 887 samples. Listeria monocytogenes was detected in 15 samples of processed avocado, the main ingredient in guacamole, and finished guacamole, collected from nine different firms.  

Of the 15 Lm positive samples, six were collected at grocery stores. The products from which these six samples were collected were made in the prep kitchens of the grocery stores, or at off-site facilities associated with these retail establishments. The rest of the positive Lm samples were collected at processor facilities, distribution hubs, or ports of entry. 

To read the full FDA report, go to: 

Cut Fruit Recall 

Fruit Fresh Up, Inc. is voluntarily recalling from the market all fresh cut fruit and vegetable products and ready-to-eat dips processed at its Depew, NY production facilities, due to a possible health risk from Listeria monocytogenes. This voluntary recall notification, issued on March 20, is being issued after results from the environmental program found surfaces where products are packaged into containers to contain Listeria monocytogenes. Over 25 different items are included in the recall. 

For full details on this recall, go to: 

What Retailers Can Do 

Retailers are reminded to consider washing avocados with an antimicrobial wash water treatment before slicing or further processing them. Preventing cross-contamination is a key control step in the production of guacamole.   

Prior to cutting, fresh produce including melons, pineapples, and other fruits should be washed with an antimicrobial wash water treatment with proven efficacy against Lm in the wash water.    

Maintaining food contact surfaces free from pathogens requires diligent cleaning and sanitizing of work surfaces. Minimize the potential for cross-contamination from non-food contact surfaces and Lm harborage sites. Do not overlook the importance of controlling Lm on the floor and in drains.   

To learn more about antimicrobial wash water treatments, reference: Key Qualities to Look for When Choosing an Antimicrobial Fruit and Vegetable Wash – National Grocers Association