Would you be prepared if the FDA showed up at your facility unexpectedly to perform a swabathon? The FDA is conducting these elevated inspections by swabbing ready-to-eat (RTE) and high-risk food manufacturing facilities in search of foodborne pathogens. To help prepare manufacturers for these swabathons, our subject matter expert, Tim Freier, Ph.D., sat down to answer some questions posed by food industry professionals following our recent swabathon webinar, which is available to stream on-demand for free. Continue Reading

 

I recently attended the annual meeting for the International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) in Tampa, Florida. I always enjoy attending the food safety sessions, as well as seeing old friends from across the food industry. My presence at numerous IAFP meetings over the years has afforded me the chance to seek out new EnviroMap customers, but it has also given me the opportunity to speak with many legacy customers.

EnviroMap was developed several years ago, so our time at IAFP helps us move the product forward and provides insight on its real-world application. We have customers who use it for finished products as well as environmental testing. Some feel that the best feature of EnviroMap is reporting, while others claim it is the control/visibility over their local environmental program as well as their enterprise environmental management. I’m also fairly certain the local plant folks would all agree it has made their lives easier and freed up time to devote to other tasks.  Continue Reading

Many companies have Environmental Monitoring Programs (EMPs) setup to monitor the processing (and surrounding) environments for transient pathogens such as Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella. However, it is important to realize that growth niches are likely to occur from these transient guests. If your EMP does not include a “seek and destroy mission,” an event section, (i.e. increasing swab surveillance with roof leaks, construction, etc) or is simply not robust enough, then routine monitoring may be insufficient protection against an FDA swabathon. Additionally, if your site selection is fixed, new sites aren’t being rotated in, a low number of swabs are being taken, you have an infrequent swabbing schedule and corrective actions are not being implemented, the same result will surely occur.
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As the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) moves forward with Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) implementation, food companies are beginning to realize the need for effective environmental monitoring procedures to minimize microbial cross-contamination and allergen cross-contact. In developing the Preventive Controls Rule for Human Food, the FDA revised the antiquated Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) once contained in 21 CFR Part 110 and now published in 21 CFR Part 117. In doing so, the FDA has been very specific in addressing environmental contamination in the revised GMPs and in the new Preventive Control regulations.  Continue Reading

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

The practice of whole genome sequencing (WGS) has received a great deal of attention in the food industry and among industry trade associations in recent years. Whole genome sequencing is a process that uses laboratory methods to determine or map the complete DNA sequence of an organism’s genome. Each microorganism has a unique genetic fingerprint that can be identified and traced using WGS. Continue Reading

Several years ago, I attended the International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) annual meeting, representing our new EnviroMap Software Solution. We spent almost five years developing a comprehensive product that would allow us to manage environmental sampling plans for food plants. Prior to that, we developed Laboratory Information Software solutions for food and energy labs for over ten years. From that experience, we recognized an emerging market for a comprehensive cost effective software tool to manage environmental sampling. This combined with the pending regulations of the new Food Safety Modernization Act made us certain that we had the ideal opportunity for our new software, EnviroMap. Continue Reading

In the pursuit of improved food safety, environmental control measures are highly recommended to prevent finished product contamination. Largely void of state-of-the-art gadgets and gizmos, environmental control programs can be viewed as “the nuts and bolts” of food safety programs. However, their value in the ongoing battle against foodborne disease cannot be denied. This article covers a number of the vital components that are found in environmental control programs. Continue Reading