In addition to routine screening for harmful pathogens, bacterial species identification and further strain differentiation play an important role in food safety and quality investigations. These methods can offer an immediate classification of an existing or new problem in a given facility. Additionally, the resulting data gives manufacturers the ability to track contamination strains and map the bacterial flora present within their facility in order to monitor raw materials, surfaces, finished product and overall sanitation effectiveness. Continue Reading

When consumers purchase chicken from the grocery store, they could be bringing home more than just a drumstick. Campylobacter has crept its way up the charts to become the top bacterial cause of reported foodborne illnesses in the United States. Move over, Salmonella! But how does Campylobacter infiltrate the food supply, and why is it seemingly on the rise? We’ve answered five need-to-know questions about Campylobacter below: Continue Reading

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

In 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. Continue Reading

Over the past decade, the food testing industry has adopted new methods and strategies to reduce turn-around-time and the total duration of testing methods. In addition to the tests themselves, many other factors must be considered when referencing total turn-around-time and the amount of time spent by your staff in filling out and submitting laboratory testing forms.

For a majority of laboratories, turn-around-time begins when the sample is received to start testing. Turn-around-time can be reduced logistically by the use of expedited shipping services and couriers, but the laboratory itself must manage processing the samples in a timely fashion once they hit the laboratory door. Continue Reading

Detection methods for foodborne pathogens and spoilage organisms have come a long way from traditional cultural methods. Advances in technology have led the evolution into rapid detection methods, whether they are antibody-based or nucleic acid-based (i.e., DNA or RNA). These rapid detection methods have been widely adopted by the food industry. However, with so many assays, kits, and methods available, it can be daunting to know where to start when choosing a rapid detection method that fits all your needs and requirements.  While there are many factors to consider, here are five to keep in mind: Continue Reading

Campylobacter Background:

Campylobacter is a less commonly known organism that has quickly become an emerging hot topic in food microbiology in recent years due to various recalls, news articles and evolving government regulations. Surprisingly, this genus of spiral-shaped, microaerophilic bacteria is the most commonly reported bacterial cause of gastroenteritis from foodborne sources in the United States, outranking E. coli, Salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus and other more well known microorganisms.   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