Untitled Document

Current Issues

15 December 2010 : Canada’s new policy on Listeria mocytogenes in Ready-to-Eat Foods

Canada’s new policy on Listeria mocytogenes in Ready-to-Eat (RTE) Foods


It is reported that Health Canada has completed the revision of the 2004 policy on
Listeria monocytogenes in Ready-to-Eat (RTE) foods
considering the enhancement of
Listeria control in high-risk foods.  Nevertheless, the new Listeria policy will come into force on April 1, 2011.  In the mean time, the 2004 policy is still in effect to allow a transition period for implementation.


It is reported that Listeria monocytogenes which is pathogenic bacteria occurs widely in both agricultural (soil, vegetation, silage, faecal material, sewage, water) and food processing environments.  It can survive and sometimes grow on foods being stored in the refrigerator, however can be killed by proper cooking procedures.


Listeria is more likely to cause death than other bacteria that cause food poisoning. 
The outbreaks of listeriosis are associated with ready-to-eat foods that are usually held for extended periods at refrigeration or chill temperatures


After the incident of deli-meat listeriosis outbreak in 2008, Health Canada started a review of its policy on Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat foods to update the policy with the latest science available.


The 2010 policy on Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat foods applies to foods sold in Canada, produced both domestically and imported.  Its objective is to provide guidance to stakeholders regarding verification and control, as well as regulatory oversight and compliance activities of ready-to-eat foods with respect to their potential to support the growth of Listeria monocytogenes. 


The policy is based on Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) and the principles of HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point).  It was developed by using a health risk assessment (HRA) approach as a basis for inspection, environmental sampling and end-product testing to verify control of Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat foods.

The summary of differences between 2004 and new policy

  1. A new criterion for end-product compliance which is similar to Codex (CAC, 2009a)
  2. The revised definitions of ready to eat foods in which growth of Listeria monocytogenes can or cannot occur.
  3. The modification of compliance action decision tree to include further details on sampling in both environmental testing for Listeria spp. and end-product testing for Listeria monocytogenes.
  4. The new policy requires plants that manufacture ready to eat foods to conduct an environmental monitoring program
  5. The encouragement of using post-lethality treatments and/or Listeria monocytogenes growth inhibitors.

Recommendations for ASEAN

The scope of   the new policy on Listeria monocytogenes on Ready-to-Eat foods (2010) covers foods sold in Canada produced both domestically and imported.   ASEAN is one of the important food producers that export products including ready to eat food to Canada.  So, it is recommended that Member States should recognize and follow this policy to be incompliance with Canada requirements.  Consequently, it will lead to the maintenance and growth of competitiveness in exporting ready- to - eat foods to Canada. 



1. http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/legislation/pol/policy_listeria_monocytogenes_2010-eng.php

2. http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/consult/_listeria/summary-sommaire-eng.php

3. http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/fssa/concen/cause/listeriae.shtml