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Ready-to-eat meals are cooked in advance with minimal further processing required. They are usually either precooked, partially cooked, frozen or preserved to be eaten instantly after warming up. They offer consumers convenience, flexibility and are an increasingly preferred food option.  

In a globally connected food supply chain, the preparation and distribution of ready-to-eat meals requires consistency to ensure the highest level of safety for these products. Ready meals have a high frequency of product recalls mainly because they comprise numerous food ingredients.

To achieve consistency, pathogen testing is required across the entire supply chain. Many ready meal foods rely on acidic conditions to inhibit the growth of pathogens. However, bacteria such as listeria monocytogenes, salmonella, escherichia coli, clostridium botulinum and clostridium perfringens can still survive and continue to grow, hence posing a health risk to consumers. Listeria monocytogenes are among the most deadly foodborne pathogens that cause more deaths than any other foodborne pathogen. This bacterium uses various mechanisms to survive under acidic conditions which also allow it to pass through a person’s stomach.

Related bacteria

Listeria monocytogenes

Salmonella spp

Escherichia coli

Clostridium botulinum


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