Digging into a hot dog or chowing down on a cold-cut sandwich? Regulators say many companies that make these types of ready-made foods only follow some key safety regulations right before Listeria monocytogenes inspections.
What this means: A lot of these corporations routinely don’t use proper amounts of sanitizer and still use machines that might have previously tested positive for listeria, Food Safety News reports.
To avoid positive listeria tests, some businesses have even gone so far as halting the production of high-risk items, such as deli meats, during inspection time.
So, when the inspectors leave, they resume making these items, but without as much regulatory scrutiny as one would like.
Listeria, though uncommon, has an infamous rep for being the deadliest food-borne illness in the U.S. Chicago-based Flying Food Group, which used to sell pre-packed sandwiches to gas stations in the South — as well as supply salad meats to Starbucks — recalled thousands of meals because of listeria concerns earlier this month.
And earlier this year, the country reeled from the most fatal listeria outbreak in American history, as tainted cantaloupes from Colorado resulted in 29 reported deaths.
According to Food Safety News, the United States Department of Agriculture has recently come down on makers of these products, ordering them not to change their routines right before they get inspected for listeria (which only happens once every four years or after something awful happens).
For companies that get caught changing their routine, regulators will suspend inspection, which would also suspend operations, Food Safety News notes.
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This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 30, 2011