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Biological Hazards

Assessing the consequences of Listeria

Report no:

Ordered: 11.09.2017

Publishing: 13.06.2018

Key message:

The Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety is assessing the risk for pregnant women and vulnerable consumers from Listeria in fish products, meat products, dairy products and fruit, berries and vegetables.

The background is The Norwegian Food Safety Authoritys (NFSA) review and update of dietary advice on Listeria.

NFSA is particularly concerned with foods that do not have to be heat-treated before eating, and consequences that may have for consumers if these foods contain Listeria. Such foods can for example be fish and meat patties.

Should consider many foods

VKM will evaluate the consequences of Listeria in many foods, such as cold-smoked, hot-smoked and dilled fish. In the case of meat products, VKM will evaluate cold cuts as well as uncut products, smoked and marinated meat.

A wide range of different cheese and dairy products will be considered, such as cheeses from pasteurized and unpasteurized milk, cottage cheese and cream.

The Norwegian Food Safety Authority has currently no advice for pregnant and vulnerable groups on fruit, berries and vegetables regarding Listeria. The Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety (VKM) is asked to assess the risk from eating raw sprouts and other products containing vegetables that may pose a risk to pregnant women.

For all food groups, VKM is assessing measures consumers themselves can take in order to reduce risk.


Infection with Listeria is called listeriosis. Listeriosis is usually a condition without or with a flu-like symptoms. Listeriosis is a rare disease, but can cause serious disease in vulnerable groups.

Listeria occur mostly in meat, dairy products and raw vegetables. The most common source of infection is a consumption of contaminated, ready-to-eat foods which are not heat-treated. Examples of foods that have caused infection are cheeses from unpasteurized milk, vacuum-packed cold cuts and dilled and smoked salmon. Listeria monocytogenes has the ability to grow at a refrigerator temperature, thus foods with long shelf life can carry extra risk.

Probably completed in the summer of 2018

VKM's panel on biological hazards is undertaking the risk assessment wich is planned published in June 2018.

The Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food and Environment

T: 21 62 28 00
@: vkm@vkm.no


P.O. box 4404 Nydalen
0403 Oslo

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