An estimated 15 million food shipments are expected to arrive at 300 U.S. ports of entry this year from up to 125,000 foreign facilities located in over 200 countries. In recent years, an upward trend in the volume and diversity of imported food shipments has created regulatory and food safety challenges. Addressing these challenges, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) developed a new regulatory oversight strategy for ensuring the safety of imported foods.
Despite continuing technological advancements, preventing products from becoming contaminated with pathogens remains a challenge in the food industry. To monitor foodborne illness, the Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet) actively conducts surveillance of laboratory-diagnosed infections caused by pathogens commonly transmitted through food sources.
FoodNet is a partnership between the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, 10 state health departments and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It monitors infections due to: Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium, Cyclospora, Listeria, Salmonella, STEC, Shigella, Vibrio and Yersinia. To gather the data, outbreaks are monitored at 10 sites throughout the country that account for approximately 15% of the U.S. population. In 2016, FoodNet tracked outbreaks for an estimated 49 million people. The preliminary 2017 FoodNet surveillance data shows that foodborne illness continues to be a considerable health burden despite ongoing food safety measures. Below are three key questions raised by examining the 2017 FoodNet data: Continue Reading
Whether they’re sprinkled on top of a salad, mixed into brownie batter or added as the star ingredient in a granola bar; nuts and seeds tend to find their way into many food products. However, it is vital for food manufacturers to ensure the safety of these items in their products. Tree nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, pine nuts, pistachios, macadamia nuts, pecans, walnuts and peanuts have been identified as a vehicle for foodborne pathogens, including Enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC), Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella. Moreover, seeds such as sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds have been recently linked to bacterial pathogens. For example, in May 2016, almost 100 products were recalled due to Listeria contamination in sunflower seeds. Salmonella also appears to be of concern in nuts, as it has been associated with many outbreaks and recalls in recent years. Continue Reading
The Food Safety Modernization Act has introduced many new food safety requirements to the food industry. In particular, FSMA places a focus on performing a hazard analysis and using preventive measures in food manufacturing. The requirement to develop and implement supplier preventive controls for raw materials and ingredients to address hazards has renewed interest in methods for sampling and testing raw materials. In order for sampling and testing to be used to address pathogen concerns identified in the hazard analysis of raw materials, a valid sampling plan must be in place. Continue Reading
Each year, we at Mérieux NutriSciences get excited about the opportunity to honor our founder, Dr. John H Silliker, through the sponsorship of The John H. Silliker Lecture as part of the annual IAFP program. This year marks the 50th anniversary of when Dr. Silliker, already known for his work on Salmonella, began his own small business dedicated to food safety and quality. That small business has grown to operate nearly 100 laboratories in 21 countries. Dr. Silliker’s leadership established a culture that places consumer health and well-being at the heart of all Mérieux NutriSciences initiatives across the globe. Continue Reading
Over the years, I have heard horror stories about companies that were not improving daily operations, but instead experiencing massive chaos in the day-to-day management of their businesses. Those situations can lead to disaster for companies and, in some cases, even death for consumers. Having an effective food safety and quality management system in place will help reduce the chaos and create a system for continuous improvement. Creating goals is crucial to an effective food safety and quality management system. Does your company utilize food safety or quality objectives? Have you ever heard of SMART objectives? Let us take a journey into creating SMART-er objectives: 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
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