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 Environmental Monitoring Monologues: What About Mississippi?

Posted by Larry Bowman

February 20, 2017 at 10:00 AM

enviromap_blog.jpegSeveral years ago, I attended the International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) annual meeting, representing our new EnviroMap Software Solution. We spent almost five years developing a comprehensive product that would allow us to manage environmental sampling plans for food plants. Prior to that, we developed Laboratory Information Software solutions for food and energy labs for over ten years. From that experience, we recognized an emerging market for a comprehensive cost effective software tool to manage environmental sampling. This combined with the pending regulations of the new Food Safety Modernization Act made us certain that we had the ideal opportunity for our new software, EnviroMap. 

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Topics: Environmental Monitoring, Environmental Control Program, EnviroMap, Preventive Environmental Monitoring

Mérieux NutriSciences’ Scientist Publishes Food Safety Study in International Journal of Food Microbiology

Posted by Pam Coleman

February 16, 2017 at 10:00 AM

food_safety_study_blog.jpegI once jokingly said during a presentation that there were at least 10 ways to sabotage your food pathogen testing program. While no conscientious food safety leader would set out to negatively impact their own program, the high attention to detail and constant organizational discipline required for an effective testing program leave some room for error. If any small step is not well designed and expertly executed, then your entire program may be worthless - or worse - may cost you millions due to a recall or human illnesses. One factor in particular that manufacturers need to focus their attention on is the reliability of their pathogen sampling and compositing (pooling) strategy, as well as the applicability of their pathogen method. Specifically, what test portion should be taken to ensure accurate results, and what method should be used when testing for the presence of pathogens?

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Topics: Salmonella, Food Safety, Microbiology,, Food Testing, Research, Pathogens, International Journal of Food Microbiology, Sampling, Pathogen Testing

Technical Tuesdays: Harnessing Integrated Pest Management For Your Facility

Posted by Jeff Strout

February 14, 2017 at 10:00 AM

pest_blog_photo.jpgAs an auditor for over 35 years, I have noticed most food facilities do not fully understand the fundamentals of Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Many know about pest control, but they do not quite grasp the full power of establishing an effective IPM plan.  

There are five steps for establishing an effective IPM plan: 

1) Identify the Target Pests 
To create your IPM plan, you need to first fully identify the target pests for your facility and the surrounding area. This includes all pests, and is not limited to only the ones the local pest control contractor covers under their service plan. I have heard stories about deer, dogs and even chickens getting into facilities where they don’t belong. I’ve also seen facilities with hundreds of stray cats around the outside of the plant; others with thousands of birds flying outside; and some where bats, raccoons, possums and even an alligator managed to get inside. 

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Topics: Food Safety, Food Production, Pest Management, Facilities, Food Manufacturing, Pests

Regulatory Round-Up: New Canadian Food Safety Regulations Target International Harmonization

Posted by Patrick Kennedy

February 9, 2017 at 10:00 AM

sfca_blog.jpgBelieve it or not, it's been nearly five years since Canada approved its comprehensive food safety legislation known as the Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA). The legislation was developed to streamline Canada’s food safety regulations, improve regulatory oversight, and increase international regulatory alignment with its key trading partners, particularly the United States. To implement the legislation, Canada recently published the proposed Safe Food for Canadians Regulations. 

Foodborne illness affects an estimated four million Canadians annually, resulting in 238 deaths and nearly 12,000 hospitalizations. Since 2011, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has reported 84 recalls related to fresh fruits and vegetables, and more than 1,500 food product recalls attributed to non-federally registered establishments not covered by the existing commodity-based regulations. Health Canada has suggested the increasing incidents of food safety issues have been attributed to expanding consumer preferences for minimally processed foods (e.g. bagged salads) as well as new production and distribution systems.

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Topics: Food Safety, Regulations, Canada, CFIA, Preventive Controls, Safe Food for Canadians Act, Canadian Food Inspection Agency, SFCA

How FDA “Swabathons” Factor Into Environmental Monitoring

Posted by Tim Freier, Ph.D.

February 7, 2017 at 10:00 AM

swabathon_blog copy.jpgRecently, significant changes have been made to how the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conducts investigations of food manufacturing facilities. For starters, note that I did not say FDA inspections; they are now investigations. This change in semantics indicates a shift from a superficial “look around” a facility to diving into records and sometimes taking hundreds of environmental pathogen samples. The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) has prompted many of these changes, and has given the FDA increased power and access to records. The FDA is also now much more likely than in the past to involve the Department of Justice if there is any possibility of criminal intent. Along with this significant new regulatory authority, the industry has seen major leaps forward in microbial strain tracking technology, the most important being Next Generation Sequencing and its use for Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS). 

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Topics: Environmental Monitoring, FDA, Preventive Environmental Monitoring, Whole Genome Sequencing, Swabathons

Fundamentals for Setting Up a Successful Sensory Test

Posted by Gillian Dagan, Ph.D, CFS

February 2, 2017 at 1:00 PM

sensory_blog_photo.jpgStarting A Sensory Test 
Preparing to test your product with a target audience can be an exciting and scary feat. So, we’ve had our experts prepare the top three things you need to know so you’ll be prepared well in advance of reaching out for testing. 

Determine Your Objective: Know What You Want
Objectives. What questions are you trying to answer about your product? If you are having trouble answering this question, speaking with a sensory scientist can help. We can help you determine if you are searching for information on customer preference, or differences between products, or possibly purchase intent.

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Topics: Sensory Evaluation, Sensory Test, Product Testing, Product Development

Technical Tuesdays: HACCP Program Use in Dairy Operations

Posted by Tedd Wittenbrink

January 31, 2017 at 10:00 AM

dairy_blog.jpgUsing Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles to manage food safety in the dairy industry is not a new concept. Most dairy manufacturers have already implemented HACCP as a process to manage food safety in addition to regulatory requirements. 

Although the FDA Preventive Controls for Human Food Rule is not required for Grade A dairies until September 2018, customers and retailers continue to require their suppliers to have an effective and operational HACCP Plan in place that is overseen by a trained individual. Additionally, Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) schemes such as Safe Quality Food Institute (SQF) and British Retail Consortium (BRC) also require HACCP implementation overseen by a trained individual. Finally, global organizations, such as The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), continue to recognize HACCP (Codex HACCP) as a system which identifies, evaluates, and controls hazards which are significant for food safety. 

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Topics: Food Safety, HACCP, Dairy, GFSI, Dairy Operations, SQF, Hazard Analysis, Dairy Industry, Global Food Safety Initiative, FAO, Safe Quality Food Institute

Regulatory Round-Up: Strategies for Controlling Listeria in Ready-To-Eat Foods

Posted by Patrick Kennedy

January 26, 2017 at 10:00 AM

rte regulatory blog.jpgIf you are subject to the final rule, Current Good Manufacturing Practice, Hazard Analysis, and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food (PCHF rule), then you should be aware of FDA’s new recommendations for controlling Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat (RTE) foods. Manufacturers, processors, packers and holders of RTE foods will benefit from an understanding of the strategies and recommendations described within the new draft guidance. 

Released this month, the draft guidance sheds light on the agency’s thinking regarding effective strategies for controlling L. monocytogenes in RTE foods, including identifying the risks associated with raw materials and ingredients, listericidal process control, environmental monitoring, product testing, and the analysis of verification data trends.

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Topics: FDA Regulation Updates, FDA, Pathogens, Preventive Controls, Listeria, Ready-to-Eat Foods, CGMPs, Hazard Analysis

Technical Tuesdays: Essential Hazard Analysis - Understanding the Microbiological Profile of Ingredients

Posted by Jennifer Johnson

January 24, 2017 at 1:00 PM

shutterstock_540249184.jpgRequired under both the FDA and USDA-FSIS regulations, the Hazard Analysis is arguably the most important component of any food manufacturer’s food safety system. Unless identification of CCPs or Preventive Controls is based on a scientifically sound, properly-supported hazard analysis, hazards may not be adequately controlled. Since microbial hazards often represent the greatest potential food safety risk for food products, it’s critical to understand the microbiological profile of ingredients. This requires both general knowledge of hazards applicable to a particular ingredient and specific information on the ingredients sourced from your suppliers. 

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Topics: Pathogens, Food Production, Food Manufacturing, Mirobiology, Hazard Analysis, Ingredients

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


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