Food Safety & Quality Blog
Mérieux NutriSciences is dedicated to helping companies worldwide find practical solutions to today's food safety and quality challenges throughout the supply chain.

The Hidden Cost of Product Recalls

Posted by Seth Keller

January 19, 2017 at 10:00 AM

hidden_cost_recalls_blog.jpegIn 2016, various high profile recalls and minor scale recalls threatened the public safety of consumers across North America. Although it’s impossible to eliminate human error, and thus recalls entirely, it is paramount to understand the direct economic impact of recalls and related risks. Likewise, there are extensive efforts made by regulatory agencies to support food manufacturers as a supplement to the efforts your company should be making to ensure you remain off the recall lists in 2017.

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Topics: Food Safety, Environmental Monitoring, Recalls, FDA, Preventive Controls, Product Recalls

Technical Tuesdays: Analyzing Government Reports on Illness Outbreaks and Recalls

Posted by Dave Evanson

January 17, 2017 at 10:00 AM

government_report_blog.jpgGovernmental agencies overseeing the food industry have traditionally had a love/hate relationship with the sector. With the advent of new regulations, this relationship is sure to face its share of future challenges as well. However, government agencies ultimately take responsibility for the public’s health, and they provide support to the industry to keep consumers safe. Some of the tools made available to the public, as well as food safety professionals, identify public health issues related to various etiologic agents. 

Both the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provide daily updates on food recall events, as well as recalls of dietary supplements. Additionally, a compilation of both FDA and USDA events is available to the public. In keeping up with the Joneses, apps and widgets also offer a way the food industry or consumers in general to stay informed. The information available from these sources includes the etiologic agent involved, product type and other important data.  

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Topics: USDA, Recalls, FDA, Government Agencies, Foodborne Illness, Product Recalls

Technical Tuesdays: Protect It - It's Going to Animal Food

Posted by Jeff Strout

January 10, 2017 at 1:00 PM

animal_food_blog.jpgYears ago, I was in a production facility, and a worker threw some trash into a barrel of product destined for a local pig farmer. The worker thought his actions were acceptable because of the common belief that pigs eat anything. 

Over the years, many production facilities have taken products and by-products failing to meet finished product specifications and have sold them to “pig farmers” or other animal food companies. As I witnessed, sometimes employees would throw foreign material into the “pig food” or “animal food” container. Often, this product would be offered for “free” to farmers, as long as they picked it up frequently. Commonly, these containers on the back dock or in a walk-in refrigerator would not be labeled. Workers would throw trash in them because they were not trained about the risk of mixing trash with potential animal feed. 

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Topics: Food Safety, Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), Pet Food, FSMA, FSMA Compliance, Animal Food

Regulatory Round-Up: Food Labeling Changes From 2016 and Beyond

Posted by Patrick Kennedy

January 9, 2017 at 10:00 AM

regulatory_blog_1.9.jpegOn the regulatory front, 2016 presented many challenges for the North American food industry. While the year featured the initial implementation of FSMA regulations and passage of the GMO labeling law, the North American food industry was also confronted by a slew of regulatory changes related to food labeling. 

Last year, the food industry monitored the development of several potentially significant regulatory initiatives with upcoming compliance dates, including the revision of the FDA Nutrition Facts Panel (July 26, 2018), menu labeling for restaurants (May 5, 2017) and the withdrawal of the GRAS status of PHOs (June 18, 2018).

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Topics: FSIS, USDA, Nutritional Labeling, FDA, Nutrition, Nutrition Facts Label, Canada, CFIA, Nutrition Facts

Introducing Your Supply Chain Management Solution: QualMap

Posted by Kevin Hoffmann

January 5, 2017 at 10:00 AM

qualmap_blog_photo.jpegIs your supply chain keeping you up at night? As a food industry player, have you ever experienced difficulties in gathering the food safety data of your factories in a common format? Or made hazardous decisions because fact-based information was missing? Do your teams have to work hard to consolidate and analyze the information of suppliers? 

We get it - managing and understanding your supply chain data is a daunting task. Overseeing multiple applications, spreadsheets and data sets is inefficient, time consuming and can leave a lot of holes when comprehending the day-to-day operations of your business. 

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Topics: Food Safety, Data Management, Supply Chain, Supply Chain Management, Suppliers, QualMap, Supply Chain Data

Ask an Expert: Restaurant Menu Maintenance

Posted by Sophie Plummer

January 4, 2017 at 1:00 PM

Restaurants with 20 or more locations need to comply with menu labeling regulations by May 5, 2017, but they also need to ensure their menu labels maintain accuracy over time. Menus need to be updated with new labels as recipes change, items are added or as time passes to verify the information is still correct. But if you're new to this whole restaurant menu labeling process, how can you implement an effective plan that includes the necessary menu maintenance? 

Our recent video blog offers advice on menu maintenance for restaurants. After watching this video, you will understand how to create your nutrition information sheets, the timeline for updating your labels and who in your organization should manage the process. Watch the video below:

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Topics: Restaurant Menu Labeling, Menu Labeling, Nutrition, Lab Analysis, Database Calculation

Technical Tuesdays: Social Media as a Food Safety Informational Source

Posted by Jeff Lucas

January 3, 2017 at 10:00 AM

food_safety_social_media.jpgThirty two years ago, regular discussion about the field of food safety did not exist. Back then, information on food safety came from a limited number of sources. This included the ICMSF (International Commission for the Microbiological Specification for Foods) organized in 1962, the International Association for Food Protection (then called the International Association of Milk, Food and Environmental Sanitarians) organized in 1911, and a few loosely organized regional associations consisting primarily of academicians and state health departments. Sourcing information proved to be difficult, and books on the subject were limited and costly. 

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Topics: Food Safety, Research, Food Science, Social Media, Web Search

FSMA Roadmap: 5 Steps to Preventive Control Compliance

Posted by Jeff Lucas

December 14, 2016 at 10:00 AM

fsma_blog.jpgAre you trying to determine where to start on your journey to Preventive Controls Compliance? Well, you are not alone. It seems every day uncovers a new, little nuance that does not fit in a neat FSMA box. Start on the path to Preventive Controls compliance with our five steps below: 

1. Focus on what we already know. Many rules have yet to be implemented, and the guidelines are not available. So, focus on finding a Preventive Controls Qualified Individual (PCQI) training program. Attending a PCQI training program will jump start your efforts toward Preventive Controls compliance. After training, assemble your team to review the process flow chart, your raw material(s) and an ingredient hazard analysis. If a flow chart or hazard analysis has not been developed, this should be your first step. It is important to note that the preventive control rule does not require a flow chart, but it is almost impossible to perform a hazard analysis without one. 

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Topics: Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), FSMA, Preventive Controls, FSMA Compliance

Regulatory Round-Up: FSIS Unveils Strategic Food Safety Goals

Posted by Patrick Kennedy

December 12, 2016 at 10:00 AM

regulatory_blog2.jpegThe USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) recently unveiled its five-year strategic plan for ensuring the safety of meat, poultry and processed egg products. Covering the fiscal years 2017-2021, the objectives of the Strategic Plan are classified within the core goals of preventing foodborne illness, modernizing inspection systems and scientific techniques, and improving operational excellence. 

To prevent product contamination and related illness from FSIS-regulated products, the agency intends to strengthen sampling programs, promote food defense practices, and ensure domestic establishments are meeting pathogen reduction performance standards. The alignment of domestic and international program sampling objectives and the strengthening of existing testing activities for imported products were identified as additional priorities. 

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Topics: FSIS, Food Safety, Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), FDA Regulation Updates, FDA, FSMA, Voluntary Qualified Importer Program, Whole Genome Sequencing

3 Food Safety Tips for the Holiday Season

Posted by Katie Schott

December 7, 2016 at 1:00 PM

holiday_blog2.jpegThe holidays bring a month full of family, friends, gifts and food. While you're making wonderful memories this year, remember that food safety plays a critical role in the holiday fun. Keep your loved ones healthy by implementing safe food handling at your celebration. Reduce the occurrence of inadvertent foodborne illness with these three easy-to-follow food safety tips:

1. Use a Meat Thermometer

Whether you prefer turkey or ham for your holiday dinner, make sure any meat you serve is cooked to the proper internal temperature. Timing the meat while it cooks, or looking at it to determine if it's ready to eat isn’t going to cut it, Aunt Rosie! 

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Topics: Food Safety, Holiday, Cooking, Holiday Meals, Kitchen Safety

Is the Color of Your Spice up to Snuff?

Posted by Nick Price

December 5, 2016 at 10:00 AM

spices_blog.jpgThough it probably takes a back seat to taste, color is an important factor when consuming food. Society has assigned what we consider the “ideal color” for various food items. For example, consider the produce section in the grocery store, where you may find yourself attracted to particular items with the most desirable color. Those colors are desirable because you equate them to a fresher, more ripe, or higher quality product. You grab the bright yellow bananas and leave the green ones behind (unless you’re willing to wait for the green ones to ripen at home).

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Topics: spices, spice products, Turmeric, Color Method, ASTA, ASTA Methods

New to the Nutrition Label: What Are Added Sugars?

Posted by Katie Schott

November 30, 2016 at 10:00 AM

added_sugar_blog.jpgHow sweet is it? Beginning July 26, 2018, the true nature of your products’ sugar content will be on display with the new mandatory Added Sugars line on the Nutrition Facts Label. But how do you know what is considered an added sugar? To answer that question, we need to delve into the new Food and Drug Administration (FDA) nutrition labeling requirements.

On July 26, 2016, the FDA released new nutrition labeling regulations, which includes an overhaul of the required Nutrition Facts Label. The new regulations go into effect in July 2018 for large food manufacturers, and July 2019 for food manufacturers with less that $10 million in annual food sales. One of the most notable differences on the new label is the Added Sugars line. This new addition will be located directly beneath the Total Sugars line, which will replace the Sugars line on the old label.

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Topics: Nutritional Labeling, FDA, Nutrition Facts Label, Added Sugars

Regulatory Round-Up: New FSMA Guidance Tackles Hazard Disclosure, VQIP

Posted by Patrick Kennedy

November 28, 2016 at 10:00 AM

regulatory_blog.jpegImplementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) regulations will continue despite the outcome of the recent presidential election and suggestions to reduce federal oversight of the food industry. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently published two guidance documents to support industry compliance with upcoming FSMA regulations, including the controversial FSMA requirement for disclosing hazards, and the Voluntary Qualified Importer Program (VQIP). 

Written disclosure statements for identifying hazards are mandated by four of the seven foundational FSMA rules, including the rules for preventive controls for human food, preventive controls for animal food, produce safety, and foreign supplier verification program (FSVP). 

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Topics: Food Safety, Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), FDA Regulation Updates, FDA, FSMA, Foreign Suppliers, Foreign Suppliers Verification Program, Voluntary Qualified Importer Program

A Beginner's Guide to GMOs

Posted by Katie Schott

November 16, 2016 at 1:00 PM

gmo_blog_photo.jpegGenetically Modified Organism (GMO) claims are being spotted more frequently on food labels as the debate over the health of GMO ingredients heats up. Many food manufactures are trying to get ahead of the regulations by either disclosing the use of GMOs in their products or getting products certified as “Non-GMO.”

Many consumers don’t realize how long GMO foods have been on the market. The first commercially available GMO food made available on the market was a tomato in the 1990s! The rise of GMO foods brought a parallel demand for disclosure on food labels.

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Topics: Food Testing, Genetically Modified Organisms, GMOs, Label Claims, NonGMO

Regulatory Round-Up: Industry Seeks Harmonization of Nutrition Compliance Dates

Posted by Patrick Kennedy

November 11, 2016 at 10:00 AM

Industry Seeks Harmonization of FDA Nutrition Mandates 

regulatory_roundup_2.jpegResponding to food industry requests to harmonize the compliance dates of upcoming food labeling and nutrition initiatives, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently clarified that the compliance dates are already coordinated to take effect in summer 2018. 

Industry groups contend, however, that it will be difficult for manufacturers to comply with the revised nutrition labeling rules since the agency has not yet provided key pieces of the regulatory puzzle. 

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Topics: Food Safety, Nutritional Labeling, FDA Regulation Updates, FDA, Nutrition

How to Implement Menu Labeling Maintenance

Posted by Sophie Plummer

November 9, 2016 at 10:00 AM

menu_labeling_blog_3.jpgTake a deep breath. It’s May 5, 2017 and your menu labels are compliant with FDA menu labeling laws. You’re done!

But wait, suddenly you get that feeling - you know, that feeling that you’ve forgotten something...

Menu Maintenance!

Restaurant menu labeling is an ongoing process. After you initially post your nutrition information online and calories on the menu board, your work is not finished. But, we have good news! Menu maintenance doesn’t need to be a painful process for restaurants or food service establishments. To make menu maintenance easier, create a system that includes continuous monitoring and updating of your menu.

Mérieux NutriSciences recommends the following two steps to maintain your restaurant menu labeling program:

1. Develop a sustainable plan

Restaurants and food service establishments need someone accountable for menu labeling maintenance. Appoint one of your team members to this position. This individual will create a process for menu labeling moving forward, and keep up with changing label regulations.

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Topics: Restaurant Menu Labeling, Menu Labeling, Nutrition, Lab Analysis, Database Calculation

5 Steps to Finding Your Restaurant Menu Labeling Experts

Posted by Sophie Plummer

November 2, 2016 at 1:30 PM

shutterstock_231815896 [Converted].pngFeeling overwhelmed by new federal menu labeling laws? You’re not alone. Finding a 3rd party partner to work with for compliance can be stressful, but choosing the right partner will allow you to spend your time running your business while still meeting regulation deadlines.

When looking for a team of experts to utilize for your required FDA menu labeling updates, consider these five key attributes:

1. Experience

When choosing a menu labeling partner, evaluate whether they understand the restaurant menu labeling process, know the ABC’s of ever changing regulations and demonstrate an apt knowledge of the needed database software.

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Topics: Restaurant Menu Labeling, Menu Labeling, Nutrition, Lab Analysis, Database Calculation

Regulatory Round-Up: New Criteria for "Healthy" Foods

Posted by Patrick Kennedy

October 31, 2016 at 10:00 AM

FDA Revising Criteria for “Healthy” Food

regulatory_round_up_blog.jpegReflecting the latest scientific information, including the link between diet and chronic diseases, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a final guidance in late September to stipulate the approved use of the labeling claim “healthy” on packaged foods and to request industry comments regarding the use of the term. Industry comments should inform FDA’s efforts to redefine the term “healthy” in order to align with the new final rules for updating the Nutrition Facts Panel and serving size information for packaged foods.

The final guidance advised food manufacturers of the agency’s intent to exercise enforcement discretion regarding use of the implied nutrient content claim “healthy” relative to the latest recommendations. The guidance highlights acceptable uses for the labeling term relative to low fat, and beneficial nutrients such as potassium and vitamin D.

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Topics: Food Safety, Nutritional Labeling, FDA Regulation Updates, FDA, Nutrition, Health Claims

Preventive Environmental Monitoring for Pet Food Facilities

Posted by Stephanie A. Wilkins

October 26, 2016 at 1:00 PM

shutterstock_177594395.jpgA picture taken in the early 1980s shows me at age 3 eating dog treats out of my grandparents’ food pantry. I think back on that picture and recognize how things have changed in the last 30+ years when it comes to Food Safety, most recently for the Pet Food Industry. Environmental Monitoring or Product Testing Programs rarely existed back then, and the few that did exist lacked planning. If I had gotten sick from consuming contaminated pet food, my parents or doctors would never have assumed eating dog food/treats caused it.

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Topics: Environmental Monitoring, Pet Food, EnviroMap, Pathogens, Preventive Environmental Monitoring

Help! A Guide to Upcoming Menu Label Regulations

Posted by Sophie Plummer

October 24, 2016 at 1:30 PM

shutterstock_193166291.jpgWith Halloween around the corner, don’t let the rapidly approaching deadline for menu labeling regulations scare you. You may not want to think about next May, but you must! Especially if you are in the restaurant or food service industries.

Beginning May 5th, 2017, all restaurants and food service providers with 20 or more establishments under the same name or that serve the same type of food are required to list calories on menus and menu boards. You may not think this is a big deal, but in addition to printed menus, consider the number of restaurants that offer online menus on their website, apps, and 3rd party websites such as GrubHub or Yelp. This project is a bit of a doozy!

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Topics: Restaurant Menu Labeling, Menu Labeling, Nutrition, Lab Analysis, Database Calculation


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