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Nov 11, 2020 Publication

PROFEL announces new sector hygiene guidelines in control of Listeria monocytogenes for frozen vegetables

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11 November 2020

Yesterday, EU Member States’ experts at a Standing Committee meeting endorsed hygiene guidelines for the control of Listeria monocytogenes in the production of quick-frozen vegetables[1].

The guidelines, prepared by the European frozen vegetable sector with the support of Gent University and in consultation with the European Commission and Member States, are designed to ensure consumer safety, by:

Delivering best-practice guidance to vegetable freezing companies on how to control Listeria monocytogenes in the production of quick-frozen vegetables

Providing B2B and B2C customers with information on how frozen vegetables should be stored, defrosted and prepared

Following a foodborne outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes connected to frozen sweetcorn in spring 2018, the sector decided to initiate its work on guidelines.

Challenge tests that were performed on different frozen vegetables demonstrated growth of Listeria monocytogenes during defrosting and storage in a refrigerator. These findings were incorporated into the guidelines.

Frozen vegetables should therefore be regarded as Non-Ready-To-Eat (nRTE)[2].  The guidelines recommend clear cooking, defrosting and storage instructions to be communicated to consumers and B2B customers.

PROFEL[3] President Michael Mayntz welcomes the endorsement: “These guidelines are a true milestone for vegetable freezing businesses and demonstrate the sector’s commitment to making our foods even safer. They support companies who can use them as a starting point for their own food safety management systems, good practices, and HACCP-principles”. 

The guidelines are now published on PROFEL’s website and will shortly be available on the EU Commission’s website. They will also be translated into other EU languages during the next few months.

PROFEL is currently implementing its roll-out plan to raise awareness about the new guidelines.

[1] The guidelines are for frozen vegetables and do not cover frozen herbs or fruit

[2] A position supported by an EFSA Scientific Opinion published in April 2020. https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/6092

[3] PROFEL is the European Association of Fruit and Vegetable Processing Industries, representing over 500 companies in 11 EU countries, producing canned vegetables, frozen vegetables, dehydrated vegetables, jams and fruit preserves, frozen fruit and canned fruit. The members of PROFEL employ more than 80.000 people. Members annually produce approximately 3.300.000 Tons of Frozen Vegetables.

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