Has the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) detained one of your shipments? Are your fists clenched and heart racing in frustration, desperation or fear? When you receive this notification from the FDA, there’s no need to panic. Among other tasks, the FDA is responsible for keeping our food supply safe.

Why has your product been detained? When the FDA has a reason to suspect a shipment is in violation of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, they have the authority to detain shipments. This law gives the FDA the right to examine food, drugs, cosmetics, tobacco products, devices and radiation-emitting electronic products that are to be imported into the United States. If a product is found to be adulterated or misbranded, the FDA can refuse to admit it into the country. The FDA can detain products without physical examination on the basis of a history of violations, or on information about how a product was made. For example, if the FDA believes your fresh tomatoes were grown using a prohibited pesticide, they could detain your shipment. Continue Reading

How much do you know about dioxins? Dioxins are toxic compounds that persist in the environment all around us. They exist in the air, the soil, rivers, lakes and even in the human food supply. They differ from other food contaminants in their unique chemical structure, which allows them to remain very resistant to breakdown. Throughout the past couple of decades, researchers have only begun to scratch the surface in gaining a thorough understanding of these molecules and their impact on the health of our society. Continue Reading

Those with lengthy careers or students of food microbiology history may recall the original Listeria Hysteria in the 1980s. While Listeria monocytogenes was responsible for an outbreak associated with fluid milk earlier in the decade, the Jalisco Cheese-related outbreak in 1985 was a major eye opener for the food industry. In the ensuing years, multiple dairy products were found to contain Listeria monocytogenes. A few years after that, the Ready-to-Eat (RTE) meat industry was the center of attention relative to reported incidents of contamination with Listeria monocytogenes. Over the next few years, fruits, vegetables, seafood, deli salads and other products were also found to contain Listeria monocytogenes. Continue Reading

When mining for diamonds, one metric ton of rock must be scrutinized to turn up one gram of diamonds. Data mining in food manufacturing can be equally as tedious. Isolating critical pieces of information can be cumbersome, but when identified, it brings prominent value through insights and mitigating risk. Food quality and supply monitoring professionals are often focused on product performance trends over time. So even with a strategic food quality and safety monitoring program, critical values can get lost in the mean when trending big data. Finding the anomalies requires continuous monitoring and countless hours of research through thousands of data points daily.  Continue Reading

Sales of our new software, EnviroMap, have continued to grow over the last few years, and this growth has allowed me the opportunity to visit a number of our customers’ plants. I have visited plants that produce pet food, peanut butter, jelly, fresh vegetables, poultry and many more. These visits have given me the opportunity to speak directly with our EnviroMap users. I have seen firsthand how their sampling plans are improving over time and how they are using data that has been produced by EnviroMap to respond to contamination. Overall, I found it gratifying to see how the implementation and use of EnviroMap not only improves the operations by cutting cost, but also greatly enhances the overall productivity of the environmental programs. Corporate Quality teams were reporting how game-changing it was to be able to monitor, change and react to local environmental issues, whether at that particular plant or off-site. All of these factors make me proud of the significant contribution to food safety that EnviroMap is making. Continue Reading

Food manufacturers who find an issue during an internal food safety audit need to perform a root cause analysis and take corrective actions in order to eliminate the problem. But what if subsequent internal audits reveal the same repeating issue? That is a good indication that the company did not find all of the root causes to place corrective actions against. And for many companies, the issue comes back repeatedly despite corrective actions.  Continue Reading

Did you know federal health authorities have estimated 44% of the sodium consumed by Americans comes from only 10 types of food? According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the diet of 90% of Americans exceeds the recommended dietary sodium level for optimal public health. The high sodium levels found in many processed foods have triggered calls for food companies to reduce the salt content of food products; however, eliminating this valuable additive from food products can be a complex process. Continue Reading

The United States and Canada have both made significant changes to their nutrition labels in the past year. In response, food manufacturers are dusting off each product’s Certificate of Analysis (COA) to create new nutrition labels in order to comply with updated regulations. But food manufacturers should consider how old their nutrient data is before using it to create a new label. Before sending those new labels to print, check to make sure your nutrient values are still usable.  Continue Reading