To Compliance and Beyond: Finding Intangibles Through Environmental Monitoring

Sales of our new software, EnviroMap, have continued to grow over the last few years, and this growth has allowed me the opportunity to visit a number of our customers’ plants. I have visited plants that produce pet food, peanut butter, jelly, fresh vegetables, poultry and many more. These visits have given me the opportunity to speak directly with our EnviroMap users. I have seen firsthand how their sampling plans are improving over time and how they are using data that has been produced by EnviroMap to respond to contamination. Overall, I found it gratifying to see how the implementation and use of EnviroMap not only improves the operations by cutting cost, but also greatly enhances the overall productivity of the environmental programs. Corporate Quality teams were reporting how game-changing it was to be able to monitor, change and react to local environmental issues, whether at that particular plant or off-site. All of these factors make me proud of the significant contribution to food safety that EnviroMap is making. Continue reading To Compliance and Beyond: Finding Intangibles Through Environmental Monitoring

Technical Tuesdays: The Role of Sanitation in the Preventive Controls Rule For Human Food

For over 20 years, the food industry has been steadfast in our view of the role of sanitation in classical Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) programs. Our experience with meat and poultry HACCP by way of the International HACCP Alliance and what came later with Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) HACCP requirements solidified the supportive role of sanitation as a food safety prerequisite program. We have managed sanitation as a separate prerequisite program, and then used these programs to eliminate the need for sanitation critical control points. However, compliance with the Preventive Controls Rule for Human Food (PCHF) as part of the Food Safety Modernization Act requires a different approach in how we manage sanitation procedures that directly addresses a food safety hazard identified in the hazard analysis. Continue reading Technical Tuesdays: The Role of Sanitation in the Preventive Controls Rule For Human Food

Technical Tuesdays: Harnessing Integrated Pest Management For Your Facility

As an auditor for over 35 years, I have noticed most food facilities do not fully understand the fundamentals of Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Many know about pest control, but they do not quite grasp the full power of establishing an effective IPM plan.

There are five steps for establishing an effective IPM plan: Continue reading Technical Tuesdays: Harnessing Integrated Pest Management For Your Facility

How FDA “Swabathons” Factor Into Environmental Monitoring

Recently, significant changes have been made to how the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conducts investigations of food manufacturing facilities. For starters, note that I did not say FDA inspections; they are now investigations. This change in semantics indicates a shift from a superficial “look around” a facility to diving into records and sometimes taking hundreds of environmental pathogen samples. The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) has prompted many of these changes, and has given the FDA increased power and access to records. The FDA is also now much more likely than in the past to involve the Department of Justice if there is any possibility of criminal intent. Along with this significant new regulatory authority, the industry has seen major leaps forward in microbial strain tracking technology, the most important being Next Generation Sequencing and its use for Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS).  Continue reading How FDA “Swabathons” Factor Into Environmental Monitoring

10 Key Things You Should Know About Yeast and Mold

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 10 Key Things You Should Know About Yeast and Mold

3 Main Steps to Prevent Cross-Contamination

Microbial cross-contamination – the transfer of harmful bacteria to food products – remains a leading cause of foodborne illness and disease. To minimize the spread of microorganisms and protect the safety of finished products, processors are advised to adhere to Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs), educate plant workers on the dangers of cross-contamination and implore how their activities can contribute to or prevent its occurrence. Continue reading 3 Main Steps to Prevent Cross-Contamination