The purpose of this paper is to provide guidance to food processors in controlling Listeria monocytogenes in food-processing environments. Of particular concern are outbreaks of a few to several hundred scattered cases involving an unusually virulent strain that has become established in the food-processing environment and contaminates multiple lots of food over days or months of production. The risk is highest when growth occurs in a food before it is eaten by a susceptible population. The information presented in this paper provides the basis for the establishment of an environmental sampling program, the organization and interpretation of the data generated by this program, and the response to Listeria–positive results. Results from such a program, including examples of niches, are provided. Technologies and regulatory policies that can further enhance the safety of ready-to-eat foods are discussed.

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