Fish producer M.V.Wool is halting production for two days at its Harku plant this week in order to fully sterilize its facilities, the company announced Tuesday. The goal is to exclude the presence of listeria bacteria in its production facilities and on the surfaces thereof.
In the course of the planned sterilization, all equipment will be fully disassembled, and all parts will be washed at a temperature of at least 83 degrees Celsius. All warehouses and production rooms will likewise receive a thorough cleaning, and going forward, all containers used in the production process will be sterilized more frequently as well, the company said.
To combat listeria, M.V.Wool also conducts scourings at the end of each workday, and production lines are washed with ozonated water during breaks in production. Disinfectant wipes and disinfectants are used to clean accessories, and accessories, including scissors, knives, metal gloves and sharpeners, are sterilized at temperatures of at least 83 degrees on a daily basis.
A full sterilization of the plant is scheduled to take place on Thursday and Friday, Oct. 17-18. M.V.Wool has invited representatives of the Veterinary and Food Board (VTA) to observe the process as well.
The company is also considering reducing the expiration date from its current 30 days on products that do not contain listeria-suppressing preservatives.
As of Oct. 4, M.V.Wool has been using benzalkonium chloride to disinfect at its facilities on a weekly basis, an ingredient in the disinfectant P3-triquart. According to the Institute of Genomics, the listeria strain ST1247 has a very low resistance to this substance. The substance does not, however, come in contact with fish products themselves.
"No listeria bacteria has been found on the premises or production surfaces of M.V.Wool's plant since July 1," said M.V.Wool board chairman Meelis Vetevool. "41 surface samples have been taken in October now, all of which were free from listeria. Despite this, we will conduct another full cleaning at our facility in order to fully exclude any occurrence of the ST1247 genotype at our company. We will be implementing additional measures in the interests of public health and in order to restore trust in our fish products."
Since this spring, M.V.Wool has been cooperating closely with the VTA, and has complied with the authority's zero-tolerance requirements at its production facility. According to the company, 195 clean samples taken from its production surfaces since this July prove that the company has managed to root listeria out of its facility.
According to Health Board statistics, a total of 12 cases of listeriosis have been registered in Estonia this year. None, however, have been linked with the ST1247 strain of listeria.
Editor: Aili Vahtla