Last updated on 24 March 2010
Shelf life of ready-to-eat food in relation to Listeria monocytogenes: Guidance for food businesses
The shelf life of ready-to-eat food in relation to L. monocytogenes is a new best practice guidance document published by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and the Chilled Food Association (CFA) and endorsed by the Food Standards Agency.
The aim of the guidance document is to help UK food business operators to determine the safe shelf life for ready-to-eat foods, specifically focusing on controlling the risk from L. monocytogenes. Food businesses indicate the intended shelf life by applying a 'use by' or 'best before' date.
This document builds on European Commission guidance published in December 2008, setting out the key principles for L. monocytogenes shelf life studies. It provides practical guidance suitable for all sizes of food business on how to implement studies to assess whether L. monocytogenes will grow in their food and demonstrate compliance with legal limits for L. monocytogenes in ready-to-eat foods. The guidance should also provide useful assistance to food law enforcement officers. Detailed worked examples have also been published alongside the guidance document illustrating how the guidance may be applied in practice.
The Food Standards Agency has worked in collaboration with a stakeholder drafting group chaired by the BRC that has developed the guidance. This group involved a coalition of organisations including a number of Industry Trade Associations, UK Enforcement bodies and Campden BRI. The UK National Reference Laboratory for Food Microbiology also participated as an observer on the group.
This guidance is available as a free download from the CFA.
Organisations in draftng group
The full list of organisations involved in the stakeholder drafting group is as follows: Bakkavör, British Meat Processors Association, British Retail Consortium, British Sandwich Association, Campden BRI, Chilled Food Association, Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, Food Solutions, Greencore, Iceland Frozen Foods, LACORS, Marks & Spencer, Northern Foods plc, Provision Trade Federation, Sainsbury’s Supermarkets, Specialist Cheesemakers Association, Tesco, The Co-operative Group, Waitrose and the Food Standards Agency. The UK National Reference Laboratory Services for Food Microbiology (Health Protection Agency) participated in the drafting group as an observer.