Conference for Food Protection

2018 Biennial Meeting

Issue View | Council III | 2018 Biennial Meeting

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Issue Number: Council III 031

Issue History

This is a brand new Issue.


Amend Food Code – Date Marking Requirements on Consumer Deli Meat

Issue you would like the Conference to consider

A recommendation is being made to amend the Food Code to require food establishments to disclose original date marking on deli meats cut and packaged within the food establishment.

Public Health Significance

Listeria monocytogenes continues to be an organism of public health significance, with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website providing information estimating an average of 1,600 illnesses and 260 deaths per year. Food such as deli meats, which have no further lethality step and are stored at refrigerated temperatures carry significant risk. Regulatory policy has been shaped over the last 10 years, including testing and cleaning requirements to reduce the risk1.

Consumer food safety practices have been previously studied using risk assessment and survey data. Consumer refrigeration storage temperatures have been found to be an average of 42.8°F, with a range between 30.5°F and 52.5°F2. Growth of listeria, combined with cross contamination of product in home kitchens, can lead to increased disease burden if not managed3.

Current regulatory requirements work to reduce risk of listeria monocytogenes by requiring ready to eat foods to be consumed or discarded within 7 days, with date the packaged opened being counted as day 1 (3-501.17). This means that deli meats which were sliced in an establishment would have to be used or discarded within 7 days of package being opened if the meat remained in the food establishment. However, there is no requirement for that date to be disclosed to a consumer when purchasing fresh sliced deli meats.

Consumer messaging currently recommends deli meats being used or discarded within 3-4 days of purchase. With the current regulatory requirements, deli meats could be opened for six days and then sold directly to a consumer who does not have knowledge of the original opening date. Providing original date marking to the consumers allows for consumers to make a more informed risk management decision.

References (Noted above with superscript numerals)

  1. Gottlieb et al, Clinical Infectious Diseases, Volume 42, Issue 1, 1 January 2006, Pages 29-36
  2. James et al, International Journal of Refrigeration; Volume 15, Issue 5, 1992, Pages 299-306
  3. Lianou et al, Food Microbiology 24 (2007) 433-443

Recommended Solution: The Conference recommends...

That a letter be sent to the FDA requesting the most current edition of Food Code, Section 3-501.17 be amended to include the requirements for consumer portions of sliced deli meats to include the original date the package was opened.

Supporting Attachments

Submitter Information

Name Carolyn Griffin
Organization NC DHHS
Address 1632 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1632
Telephone 3363441262

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