A 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. Continue Reading

As the world of food safety continues to evolve, especially in the area of microbiology, we are starting to see food safety standards continually expand outside human food products into pet foods and treats.  The focus on this market segment has increased due to several high profile recalls, most notably in dry pet food products.  This heightened scrutiny affords us the opportunity to evaluate food safety practices and processes to ensure the integrity of products intended for our furry companions. Fortunately, we have the processes and procedures in place to ensure pet food is as safe as our own! Continue Reading

Validation and verification are becoming new buzz words in the world of food microbiology, especially when it comes to quantitative and qualitative testing. This blog will focus on qualitative testing. Under a key Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) requirement, food manufacturers must ensure their matrices are tested using methods that have been validated by a recognized accrediting body for that particular food category.  The main food categories found in International Standards Organization (ISO) and AOAC INTERNATIONAL guidelines are then further sub-categorized on the basis of broad food categories and microbial load and recovery. To validate a category of foods, one matrix from each sub-category must be tested according to recognized validation processes to ensure the method is applicable to all types of foods in that category. Therefore, when a non-validated matrix is being tested, it is highly recommended, and required through FSMA, that there be some type of verification conducted for qualitative testing before using the method.  This is particularly important when results are to be used for regulatory purposes.  Continue Reading

One of the centerpieces of The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) focuses on preventative sanitation control, requiring manufacturers to implement a food safety plan to control hazards that can potentially introduce microorganisms into the finished product. Due to the heightened emphasis on prevention, an effective environmental monitoring system (EMS) provides manufacturers with critical data and information on the microbiological condition of their plants. When these systems are not correctly implemented and maintained, plants are at a greater risk of encountering safety issues that can result in increased liability exposure. Continue Reading

Yeast and mold are organisms of great importance to the food industry. These two species are very different from bacteria, which are more commonly associated with foodborne illness. Hundreds of yeast and mold species have been isolated from foods and due to their ability to grow over a wide spectrum of environmental conditions very few foods are entirely safe from fungal spoilage. Continue Reading