Pregnant women are ten times more likely to get an infection from Listeria monocytogenes and pregnant Hispanic women are about 24 times more likely to be affected. Listeriosis is a serious illness that can lead to meningitis, hospitalization, fetal loss and death.
A recent analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that there has been little or no progress in reducing the annual incidence of Listeriosis infections in more than decade.
The food safety team at Publix recognized that Listeriosis was a critical concern for the families the company serves. Michael Roberson, Director of Corporate Quality Assurance for Publix Super Markets and his team of food safety experts partnered with their creative marketing associates at Publix to develop a Listeria Initiative with a goal to develop a temperature control solution that would reach a large population of Publix’s Hispanic customers.
Publix came up with a creative way to communicate with Hispanic households about the importance of monitoring refrigerator temperatures. Helping customers maintain home refrigerators at or below 40°F is an especially important home food safety practice when it comes to Listeria prevention, since the bacteria can continue to grow at cold temperatures.
The team at Publix then partnered with an outside design group and asked them to design a temperature monitor sticker that was then applied to the front page of newspapers and distributed to current and potential customers. The temperature monitor stickers could be easily removed from the newspaper and placed inside the refrigerator to monitor temperatures. Special ink used in the stickers would turn dark to indicate the refrigerator was at the correct temperature, and the ink would stay invisible when the refrigerator was not at the optimum cooling temperature.
"We all know food safety is a shared responsibility. Over the past few years, our food safety team at Publix has partnered with the food industry to continually raise the bar and address key food safety issues such as the risk of Listeria. Moreover, a key point of our mission statement at Publix is to be involved as a responsibility citizen in our communities. The development of this temperature device was no simple task. We have some talented associates with our Marketing team that are extremely creative. They were terrific to work with, and I believe we developed an unique approach that helps our customers maintain food safety within their home kitchens." - Michael Roberson, Director of Corporate Quality Assurance, Publix Super Markets