Joint United States Food and Drug Administration / Health Canada Quantitative Assessment of the Risk of Listeriosis from Soft-Ripened Cheese Consumption in the United States and Canada

From 2007 to 2015, Health Canada collaborated with the United States Food and Drug Administration (U.S. FDA) to assess the risk posed by Listeria monocytogenes in soft-ripened cheese. This collaboration resulted in the development of a  Joint FDA / Health Canada Quantitative Assessment of the Risk of Listeriosis from Soft-Ripened Cheese Consumption in the United States and Canada that provides estimates of the risk to human health and the effectiveness of risk reduction measures.

There have been sporadic illnesses and outbreaks of listeriosis associated with the consumption of cheese and, in particular, soft cheese and soft-ripened cheese, in both Canada and the United States. The quantitative risk assessment developed jointly by Health Canada and the U.S. FDA evaluates how factors such as the levels of L. monocytogenes in milk, other sources of contamination, cheese manufacturing steps, and cheese distribution and storage conditions affect consumers' risks of listeriosis from eating soft-ripened cheese. The risk assessment is a useful tool for understanding how to effectively reduce the risks of listeriosis from soft-ripened cheese. Both the U.S. FDA and Health Canada continue to evaluate the safety of soft cheese, particularly soft cheese made from raw or unpasteurized milk.

In view of this new information, Health Canada has developed voluntary guidance for manufacturers of soft and semi-soft cheese made from unpasteurized milk. The intent is to share Health Canada's advice with industry for their consideration.

For further information, please contact Health Canada at the address below.

Bureau of Microbial Hazards
251 Sir Frederick Banting Driveway
Tunney's Pasture, PL: 2204E
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0L2
E-mail address: bmh_bdm@hc-sc.gc.ca

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