The war against pathogens and food-borne illness still rages on, but the meat, poultry, and allied industries are making significant advances.
The CDC reported in mid-April that:
• Infections for E. coli O157:H7 are down 42 percent since the baseline years of 1996 through 1998. Over the same time period, the Agriculture Department observed a sustained decline in the positive samples of E. coli O157:H7 in its ground beef sampling program. In March 2005, USDA relayed a 43.3 percent drop in positive E. coli O157:H7 tests in ground beef samples tested by that organization.
• The U.S. has achieved is Healthy People 2010 goal of less than one E. coli O157:H7 infection per 100,000 people five years ahead of schedule.
• Listeriosis cases also declined 40 percent since the baseline years. This, AMIF adds, corresponds to a sustained decline in the incidence of Listeria monocytogenes on ready-to-eat meat and poultry products.

Adel Makdesi, senior microbiologist at Zep Manufacturing in Atlanta, GA says that there are several key factors contributing to the decline:
• The implementation of the Pathogen Reduction/HACCP Final Rule
• The zero-tolerance policy for Listeria monocytogenes set by the Food Safety and Inspection Service
• The implementation of performance barometrics at plants
• Writing and complying with Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures
• Proper record keeping to insures that suspect product can be accurately traced to batch, handling, raw materials, and machinery
• Writing and complying with the HACCP plan
• Zero-tolerance for fecal matter
• Microbial testing
Areas that have improved, according to Hillard Witt, President of Best Sanitizers Inc., Penn Valley, CA, include:
• Sanitizing water-sensitive equipment
• Reducing bacteria in bathrooms of food processing plants by implementing touchless faucets, flushers, soap dispensers, and hand sanitizers, and using door pulls/pushes that prohibit bacteria growth.
• Sanitizing all tools that are brought onto the production floor.
• Sanitizing hands with advanced sanitizers, like the company’s Alpet E3 Plus.
In addition, Meritech, which has specialized in employee hand and boot hygiene for more than 15 years, introduced four new systems in 2004:
• The CleanTech 500EZ automated handwashing system is a wall-mounted, water-tight system designed to be smaller, more durable, and less expensive.
• The ProTech Walk-Through Hand and Boot Washing System is a high-throughput system designed to wash and sanitize the hands and boots of up to 30 employees a minute. Also available as a hands-only system.
• The improved Meritech Bootwasher is an improved model of the original boot-scrubbing system that incorporates horizontal and vertical brushes.
• Custom walk-through systems that incorporate rotating brushes for the boots while washing hands at the same time.
Other contributions from different companies include:
• First Spice Mixing Co.’s Meatol, a leading pathogen inhibitor for meat products.
• Best Sanitizers’ Alpet D2, the first food-grade-safe surface sanitizer/disinfectant.
• Birko’s Chlorine Dioxide Generator, suitable for in-plant applications such as potable water treatment, chill water systems, deodorizing for rendering or other byproduct operations, cooling tower treatment, and general sanitation.
• Zep’s RC-5 Entryway Foam Sanitizer System to fight and control cross-contamination at the entryways of ready-to-eat areas in food processing plants.
• DuPont Qualicon’s BAX system assay for poultry rinses that detects both Cambylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter coli.
• WTI ‘s MOstatins, which inhibiting the growth of a broad spectrum of bacteria, yeast, and molds.
• Ecolab’s Sanova and Vortexx for antimicrobial intervention.
• Intervent’s Intervent Ozone Technology to treat up to sixteen-hundred gallons a minute of brine chill fluids or marinate injection fluids for products like hot dogs.