US meat plants will be required to test for listeria themselves in future, as the US Department of Agriculture increases its efforts to control the spread of the harmful bacteria in hot dogs and deli meats.
The USDA said that almost 2,500 meat plants in the US that produce ready-to-eat meat products will be required to develop a plan to prevent listeria and then test the plan to ensure its effectiveness.
The USDA has come under pressure from consumer groups who blame ineffective controls at US meat plants for a large number of recalls last year and a deadly outbreak of listeria.
“This is truly a turning point in the long battle to control (listeria) in meat and poultry products,” Elsa Murano, USDA undersecretary for food safety, was quoted by Reuters as saying. “This rule is tough; it’s fair; it’s based on science.”
Some consumer groups, however, say the USDA has still not done enough to protect public health.
The USDA will continue to conduct their own tests at US meat plants, particularly those that are less aggressive with preventative measures. The USDA currently carries out around 10,000 tests for listeria at US meat plants, Murano said.