This research project aims to gather industrial intelligence on the formulation and manufacture of the main categories of UK retail cheese in order to assess the risk of L. monocytogenes contamination and growth.
<p>Although foodborne listeriosis is a rare disease in the UK, infections carry a high mortality rate. Vulnerable groups such as pregnant women are advised to avoid certain foods, which are known to carry a risk of Listeria monocytogenes contamination and growth of the organism. <p>Listeriosis in a pregnant woman can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth or severe illness in the newborn baby.
<p>The Food Standards Agency wishes to further develop the scientific basis for its advice on the consumption of cheese.
<p>The current Agency advice says "pregnant women are advised to avoid eating mould ripened soft cheeses of the Brie, Camembert and blue-veined types, whether pasteurised or unpasteurised". However, the range of cheese types available to consumers in the UK is diverse and a review of information about these cheeses is required to further inform the Agency's policy and advice in this area.
The work required will focus on the main categories of cheeses available in the UK and examine in detail key representative types within each category.
<p>Information on how the cheeses are made, together with the controlling factors such as pH, water activity (a<sub>w</sub>) and salt content, will be assessed to determine the risk of the cheese being contaminated with L. monocytogenes and/or likely to support the growth and survival of the organism.
The final report, "<a href="http://www.foodbase.org.uk/results.php?f_report_id=29" target="_new">Risk Assessment of Listeria monocytogenes in UK Retailed Cheese</a>" is available at Foodbase, an open access repository of the <acronym title="Food Standards Agency">FSA</acronym>.<p> Find more about this project and other FSA food safety-related projects at the <a href="http://www.food.gov.uk/science/research/" target="_blank">Food Standards Agency Research webpage</a>.