Listeria Guidance - what's it all about?

Published: 14 Jul 2016

The new Listeria Guidance recently published by the Food Standards Agency is aimed predominantly at health care and social care organisations. The Listeria Guidance has been complied with the intention to help businesses put steps in place to reduce the likelihood of Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat foods and to complement good practice in the food industry.

Listeriosis is a foodborne illness caused by the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. It is rare but can cause serious illness and death in vulnerable groups of the population. The vulnerable group includes the elderly, babies, expectant mothers and people with weakened immune systems (cancer patients, patients undergoing immunosuppressive or cytotoxic treatment, to name a few).

The guidance document identifies the food pathway (i.e how food can be transferred to the vulnerable person) and what must be put in place to minimise the risk contamination by Listeria.

Key principles for reducing the risk from Listeria in foods are:

  • Preventing foods from becoming contaminated with L. monocytogenes
  • Controlling and limiting the opportunities for growth of L. monocytogenes, through strict controls (appropriate shelf life and effective cold chain management)
  • Thorough cooking of food to kill L. Monocytogenes

Full details on the steps that should be taken to reduce the spread of Listera monocytogenes is available in the guidance document

The Listeria Guidance applies to England, Wales and Northen Ireland. In Scotland, this guidance is promoted by Food Standards, Scotland.


For further information regarding the Listeria Guidance