UT Food Specialist Says Listeria Outbreaks Rising

Knoxville – A Knoxville meatpacking plant has recalled 900-thousand pounds of hot dogs, after tests suggested the possibility of bacterial contamination.

Samples of hot dog meat from the Lay Packing Company had evidence of contamination with the Listeria bacteria.

A University of Tennessee food safety specialist said the microorganism is widespread in the environment.

“If we looked on every product that hasn-t been pasteurized in some way after packaging,” said Dr. Curtis Melton, “those products would have Listeria on them.”

Melton said the federal government-s “zero tolerance” policy for Listeria contamination makes it tough on meatpackers to achieve a totally sterile environment.

“In the past 30 years, the meatpacking industry has gotten cleaner and cleaner,” Melton said, “but I wonder how clean we expect our meat products to be, and whether we can afford that cost.”

Most of the hot dogs involved in the recall may have been eaten, according to meatpacking company officials. No illnesses related to the product have been reported.