Listeria Management for Ready-to-eat Meat Products PrimeSafe Technical Guideline

Learn how to manage Listeria effectively when processing ready to eat meat products.

August 2018
PN Number: 20180807


  • This is a guideline only. Be sure to understand the standards referred to by this guideline.
  • You must have a licence and a Listeria management plan to process and package ready-to-eat (RTE) meat and poultry products.
  • Use this guideline to understand how to manage listeria and what to cover in your Listeria management plan.

Requirements to manage listeria

  1. All businesses processing and packaging ready to eat (RTE) meat products must be licensed by PrimeSafe and have a Listeria Management Plan as part of the food safety program.
  2. Raw meat products must be segregated from RTE products.
  3. RTE products that are cooked must have a core temperature of at least 65°C for 10 minutes. All process data must be recorded and stored for future reference, and any alternative heating processes must be validated and approved by PrimeSafe.
  4. All meat products must be cooled in accordance with the Australian Standard for the Hygienic Production and Transportation of Meat and Meat Products for Human Consumption (AS 4696:2007). During cooling of RTE products, any risk of contamination must be minimised. Alternative cooling processes must be verified and approved by PrimeSafe.
  5. A minimum of five environmental sites must be sampled for Listeria monthly and any RTE product must be tested quarterly (minimum) to verify procedures.
  6. When first commencing RTE operations, Listeria monocytogenes must be tested fortnightly for the first three months and any new RTE products must be validated for Listeria monocytogenes. If no positive results are found, then a quarterly testing plan can be used.
  7. If there is an interruption to processing, then a representative batch must be processed quarterly and tested.
  8. A minimum of five independent final product samples must be tested in an unopened, undamaged form and as they would be sold.
  9. Samples must be tested using approved methodology by a National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) certified laboratory. Any alternatives must be validated.
  10. If swabs or RTE product test positive for Listeria monocytogenes, PrimeSafe should be notified within 24 hours. When it is found in the product, it must be isolated and placed on hold. Any product that has left the premises must be recalled. A clearance program of test and hold must be undertaken until acceptable results are obtained for three consecutive batches. A batch is considered as up to 24 hours of continuous production or a lesser period between cleaning and sanitation procedures.
  11. Microbiological limits for RTE products that support the growth of listeria must not be detected in all five of the 25g samples tested. RTE products that do not support the growth of listeria must meet the requirements of Section 6 of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code which is less than 100 cfu/g in all five samples tested. All RTE products that do not support the growth of listeria must be approved by PrimeSafe.

For further information

Cox B and Bauler M (2008), Cook Chill for Foodservice and Manufacturing: Guidelines for Safe Production, Storage and Distribution; AIFST.

Food Microbiology Group, AIFST Inc. NSW Branch (2003), Sixth Edition.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand, Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code


This information is a guide only and must not be used in place of the current Standard. PrimeSafe does not guarantee its accuracy, reliability, currency or completeness, therefore it cannot be used to substitute for legal or professional advice. PrimeSafe accepts no legal liability arising from reliance on any part of this document.