Science-based guidance employed at eight small and very small state and federally inspected ready-to-eat (RTE) meat and poultry processors across Michigan was assessed. Data was collected to determine the current level of sanitary control methods used for reducing Listeria in the processing environment and compared interactions with the facility microbial results. A checklist was created to assess the current recommended sanitary control methods from the U.S. Department of Agriculture; U.S. Food and Drug Administration; and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. The checklist, comprised of 178 items divided into ten general content domains, was used to assess which of the recommended controls were being utilized in the facilities to prevent post lethality contamination of RTE products . Effectiveness of pre-operational and operational sanitation was assessed through sampling 12 non-food contact surfaces using an adenosine triphosphate (ATP) reader and amplified nucleic single temperature reaction test for Listeria spp., including Listeria monocytogenes at each facility. In total, 288 samples were taken collectively from the 8 facilities (96 ATP, 96 pre-operational  Listeria  spp.). Microbial outcomes did not differ ( P > 0.05 ) based on the overall number of recommended sanitary control methods utilized and type of facility inspection. There was a greater content domain compliance overall in operational sanitation ( P  = 0.0005), sanitation ( P  = 0.0030), facility ( P  = 0.0397) and personal hygiene ( P = 0.0033 ) than for segregation procedures regardless of the regulating body. Findings suggest that regardless of the regulating body, the quality of sanitary control measures utilized is more impactful for microbial control than simply the quantity implemented. Pathogen control may be obtained without implementing all of the sanitary control methods within the guidance documents.

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