A survey from the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) showed low levels of Listeria in smoked fish in retail outlets. The food safety regulator said that more than 3,000 samples of ready-to-eat hot and cold smoked fish were analysed to check for Listeria monocytogenes, the main type of Listeria that causes illness in humans, between July and November 2006 from over 1,000 retail outlets in the UK.
While traces of Listeria monocytogenes were found in 302 samples, 99 per cent were within the legal limit for ready-to-eat foods, according to FSA. In addition, the Agency stated that no salmonella was detected in any of the samples tested but that it found variations in storage temperatures at retail ranging from -14°C to 13.3°C.
Salmon safety controls The UK Salmon Processors and Smokers Group (SPSG) said that FSA’s findings come as no surprise to its members. “Food safety is our sector’s number one priority and members of SPSG have been working hard over many years to ensure the right production controls are in place,” claims the association.
The SPSG told FoodProductionDaily.com that its members implement rigorous hygiene, safe handling and storage methods to help prevent the growth of any low levels of Listeria which might naturally be present:
“They monitor the raw material, process and product for Listeria and take appropriate preventative actions to minimise the risk of it occurring in smoked fish. Companies regularly review their production operations and follow industry best practice, which is fully communicated across the sector.”
Food puzzle Dr Andrew Wadge, chief scientist at the FSA said: 'Although only a snapshot of one type of food, this survey adds another piece to the Listeria puzzle. We know cases are on the increase in the over-60s, but we don't know why.
“These findings suggest that, Listeria isn't generally a problem in ready-to-eat smoked fish at point of sale – but it doesn't tell us what happens when people get it home.
"Are they preparing and storing food correctly and eating it within its 'use by' date? These and other questions are at the heart of further work we’re doing with our expert scientific committees to get to the bottom of this increase in Listeria monocytogenes.'