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article imageClean deli slicers to reduce food poisoning

By Tim Sandle     Apr 4, 2016 in Health
A new campaign by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is focusing on cleaning and disinfecting the meat slicers used in deli stores. These are seen as a reservoir of contamination.
Through the Morbidity and Mortality Report, the CDC is recommending that all that states, localities, and the retail food industry improve efforts to keep deli counter slices clean and disinfected. The main focus, based on case notes, should be on independent and small delis since hygiene practices have been shown to be less well controlled.
The CDC’s review found that chain-owned delis and delis with a higher level of customers had better staff awareness and better practices were in force. Here safety–certified managers were more likely to fully clean their slicers at an appropriate frequently. With smaller delis often there were no written procedures in place and staff had not been trained in basic food hygiene practices.
The organism of concern is the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. This pathogen is responsible for the third highest number of foodborne illness deaths in the U.S. each year (this is after nontyphoidal Salmonella species and Toxoplasma gondii.) The bacterium is associated with a range of foods, especially those that are kept refrigerated. This extends to deli meats and cheese.
The appropriate method is also important. There is a key difference between cleaning and disinfection. Cleaning is necessary to remove dirt, grease and protein from surfaces; disinfection is the method to kill microorganisms using a disinfectant. Most disinfectants have poor penetrative ability (to get through grease etc.) and they cannot clean. So, to render a surface contamination free, a double –step of cleaning and then disinfection is required.
One recent study of deli slicers found that treating the slicers with foam-based disinfectant, and keeping the disinfectant in contact with the device for at least one minute, proved to be an effective sanitization step. This was using a disinfectant solution prepared from levulinic acid plus sodium dodecyl sulphate.
Current U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Food guidance recommends that deli slicers (as well as other food contact surfaces) are disassembled and cleaned every 4 hours. CDC data suggests up to 50 percent of delis do not carry out this practice at this frequency. This followed interviews with staff members in 298 randomly-selected delis.
More about infection & delis, Food poisoning, Pathogens, delis
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