The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released findings from a sampling assignment that collected and tested refrigerated, multi-commodity ready-to-eat (RTE) dips and spreads. The assignment sought to estimate the presence of Salmonella spp. and Listeria monocytogenes in these products as part of the FDA’s ongoing effort to proactively ensure food safety and remove adulterated product from the market.
More than 190 million Americans purchased refrigerated RTE dips and spreads in 2020, and as the popularity of plant-based diets, as well as the convenience of on-the-go packaging continues to grow, so does consumer demand for these products.
From March 2021 to January 2022, the FDA collected and tested a total of 747 samples of refrigerated, multi-commodity RTE dips and spreads that contain ingredients such as sesame, vegetables, cheese, and seafood. The agency detected Salmonella spp. in one sample of hummus and Listeria monocytogenes in three dip and cheese spread samples. The FDA worked closely with the manufacturers to remove the contaminated products from the market.
Dips and spreads contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes or Salmonella can present a significant public health risk and have been associated with multiple recalls over the past few years. This assignment was carried out because from FY2017 through FY2020 there were five recalls of hummus products and six recalls of multi-commodity dips that were contaminated with L. monocytogenes or Salmonella.
The findings of this assignment underscore the need for processors of RTE dips and spreads and others in the supply chain to comply with the FDA’s Current Good Manufacturing Practice, Hazard Analysis, and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food Rule, as applicable.
The FDA is reviewing this assignment’s findings to identify common factors or patterns related to the contamination of RTE dips and spreads. This data will help the agency develop guidance and update program priorities, including future sampling assignments and the prioritization of surveillance inspections. The FDA will continue to sample RTE dips and spreads for pathogens as warranted to protect consumers.