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 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
Viruses are a leading cause of foodborne illness in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), viruses account for more than 50% of foodborne disease. Annually, Norovirus causes about 21 million illnesses and contributes to about 70,000 hospitalizations and 800 deaths.
Norovirus and Hepatitis A are the two main viruses of concern for the food industry. Over the past several years, a number of Norovirus and Hepatitis A (HAV) outbreaks have been linked to a wide variety of foods, including berries, pomegranate seeds and oysters. While both viruses are transmitted via the fecal-oral route, they have very different durations and symptoms. Continue Reading
Cronobacter, an emerging opportunistic foodborne pathogen, is posing an increased risk to the health of neonates, persons with immunocompromising conditions, the elderly, and even healthy adolescents and adults. This gram-negative, anaerobic, motile, and rod shaped bacteria exists in the environment and can survive in a variety of dry conditions. Due to the rarity of infections and wide variety of symptoms caused by Cronobacter, the bacterium is under-reported and not well understood in the United States. Continue Reading
Mycotoxins are naturally occurring toxin metabolites produced by numerous molds. There are over 300 mycotoxins that occur in food and feed, 20 of which occur at levels that pose safety concerns. Consequently, hundreds of countries have regulations regarding the levels of mycotoxins in food and feed. Aflatoxins, a class of mycotoxins, are of greatest concern due to their prevalence. Continue Reading