Governmental agencies overseeing the food industry have traditionally had a love/hate relationship with the sector. With the advent of new regulations, this relationship is sure to face its share of future challenges as well. However, government agencies ultimately take responsibility for the public’s health, and they provide support to the industry to keep consumers safe. Some of the tools made available to the public, as well as food safety professionals, identify public health issues related to various etiologic agents.

Both the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provide daily updates on food recall events, as well as recalls of dietary supplements. Additionally, a compilation of both FDA and USDA events is available to the public. In keeping up with the Joneses, apps and widgets also offer a way the food industry or consumers in general to stay informed. The information available from these sources includes the etiologic agent involved, product type and other important data. Continue Reading

Years ago, I was in a production facility, and a worker threw some trash into a barrel of product destined for a local pig farmer. The worker thought his actions were acceptable because of the common belief that pigs eat anything.

Over the years, many production facilities have taken products and by-products failing to meet finished product specifications and have sold them to “pig farmers” or other animal food companies. As I witnessed, sometimes employees would throw foreign material into the “pig food” or “animal food” container. Often, this product would be offered for “free” to farmers, as long as they picked it up frequently. Commonly, these containers on the back dock or in a walk-in refrigerator would not be labeled. Workers would throw trash in them because they were not trained about the risk of mixing trash with potential animal feed. Continue Reading

Thirty two years ago, regular discussion about the field of food safety did not exist. Back then, information on food safety came from a limited number of sources. This included the ICMSF (International Commission for the Microbiological Specification for Foods) organized in 1962, the International Association for Food Protection (then called the International Association of Milk, Food and Environmental Sanitarians) organized in 1911, and a few loosely organized regional associations consisting primarily of academicians and state health departments. Sourcing information proved to be difficult, and books on the subject were limited and costly. Continue Reading

Are you trying to determine where to start on your journey to Preventive Controls Compliance? Well, you are not alone. It seems every day uncovers a new, little nuance that does not fit in a neat FSMA box. Start on the path to Preventive Controls compliance with our five steps below:

1. Focus on what we already know. Many rules have yet to be implemented, and the guidelines are not available. So, focus on finding a Preventive Controls Qualified Individual (PCQI) training program. Attending a PCQI training program will jump start your efforts toward Preventive Controls compliance. After training, assemble your team to review the process flow chart, your raw material(s) and an ingredient hazard analysis. If a flow chart or hazard analysis has not been developed, this should be your first step. It is important to note that the preventive control rule does not require a flow chart, but it is almost impossible to perform a hazard analysis without one. Continue Reading

The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) recently unveiled its five-year strategic plan for ensuring the safety of meat, poultry and processed egg products. Covering the fiscal years 2017-2021, the objectives of the Strategic Plan are classified within the core goals of preventing foodborne illness, modernizing inspection systems and scientific techniques, and improving operational excellence. Continue Reading

The holidays bring a month full of family, friends, gifts and food. While you’re making wonderful memories this year, remember that food safety plays a critical role in the holiday fun. Keep your loved ones healthy by implementing safe food handling at your celebration. Reduce the occurrence of inadvertent foodborne illness with these three easy-to-follow food safety tips: Continue Reading

Implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) regulations will continue despite the outcome of the recent presidential election and suggestions to reduce federal oversight of the food industry. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently published two guidance documents to support industry compliance with upcoming FSMA regulations, including the controversial FSMA requirement for disclosing hazards, and the Voluntary Qualified Importer Program (VQIP).  Continue Reading

Back in 1984, as a very young scientist, I attended my first meeting of the Association of Official Analytical Chemists (AOAC), now AOAC INTERNATIONAL. Established over a century ago, the association is dedicated to ensuring analytical methods address the needs of stakeholders in several industries, including the food industry.

Through its work, AOAC helps companies state the nutritional value of products with added confidence while minimizing health risks associated with microbiological and chemical contaminants. AOAC INTERNATIONAL conducts Expert Review Panels, publishes Official Methods of Analysis, and sets standards for analytical performance for methods. Under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), AOAC is now addressing a broader scope of complex food safety issues than back in 1984. As a leader in the food safety industry, Mérieux NutriSciences scientists have been heavily involved in the association over the past three decades. Continue Reading