The Maturity Model for Environmental Monitoring – Making Existing Plans Better

Back in 1999, I started contributing as a developer and instructor for the “Advanced Listeria monocytogenes Intervention and Control Workshop,” presented by the American Meat Institute, which is now called the North American Meat Institute (NAMI). During the first few meetings, I took great interest in learning how each of the major US meat and poultry Ready-to-eat (RTE) manufacturers were conducting their Environmental Monitoring Programs (EMPs). A pledge by industry executives to keep food safety a non-competitive issue enabled open sharing, which brought some intense discussions as we worked towards a consensus of what constituted the true best practices for EMPs. This open forum, combined with a close collaborative interaction with the USDA- FSIS, allowed the US RTE meat and poultry industry to make tremendous strides in reducing the risk of L. monocytogenes.  Continue reading The Maturity Model for Environmental Monitoring – Making Existing Plans Better

Regulatory Round-Up: Third-Party Audits, GFSI and FSMA – FDA Seeks Strategic Partnerships for Imported Foods

Questions about the role of industry standards for complying with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) have existed since the law was enacted more than six years ago. Due to the upcoming requirements for foreign supplier verification, industry stakeholders are urging the FDA to extend the compliance date, and to clarify the role of private entities for supporting compliance with the new FSMA requirements for imported food.

The role of strategic partnerships for improving the safety of imported food was the focus of a two-day FDA public hearing held last week (February 14-15, 2017). The hearing followed public meetings held last year on imported food safety, which raised questions about the role of private certification schemes and third-party audits for supporting compliance with FSMA by foreign suppliers. Continue reading Regulatory Round-Up: Third-Party Audits, GFSI and FSMA – FDA Seeks Strategic Partnerships for Imported Foods

The Environmental Monitoring Monologues: What About Mississippi?

Several 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. Continue reading The Environmental Monitoring Monologues: What About Mississippi?

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

I 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? Continue reading Mérieux NutriSciences’ Scientist Publishes Food Safety Study in International Journal of Food Microbiology

Technical Tuesdays: Harnessing Integrated Pest Management For Your Facility

As 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: Continue reading Technical Tuesdays: Harnessing Integrated Pest Management For Your Facility

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

Believe 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. Continue reading Regulatory Round-Up: New Canadian Food Safety Regulations Target International Harmonization

How FDA “Swabathons” Factor Into Environmental Monitoring

Recently, 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).  Continue reading How FDA “Swabathons” Factor Into Environmental Monitoring

Fundamentals for Setting Up a Successful Sensory Test

Starting 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. Continue reading Fundamentals for Setting Up a Successful Sensory Test