A recall is a potential source of anxiety for any food manufacturer, but, if conducted effectively, recalls can be an invaluable tool for protecting a company’s reputation, brand image and sales. However, a recent government study has identified deficiencies in the food recall processes of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which has prompted the agency to propose new policies for improving the oversight, communication and implementation of its recall process.   Continue Reading

With the new Nutrition Labeling Regulation deadline quickly approaching, the addition of one small line is creating a lot of buzz – added sugars. When the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the changes to the Nutrition Facts Label in 2016, they included a requirement for the label to display added sugars, both in grams per serving and the percent Daily Value (%DV). Manufacturers have since been working to update their product specifications with added sugar values, companies are working to calculate the amount of added sugar in their products and consequently, consumers are beginning to see these values appear on the labels of the foods they eat. Although this new information is meant to help inform, both food manufacturers and consumers alike are unclear as to what counts as an added sugar and how much of it should be consumed. Continue Reading

The choice between eating a salad or a frosted donut may seem obvious in terms of nutrition, but for many of us, this can be a difficult decision. Despite our knowledge of the health benefits of fruits and vegetables, the majority of Americans are still failing to follow the federal dietary guidelines. In fact, a recently published study revealed that only 1 in 10 of American adults consume the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables (CDC, 2017). Continue Reading

Maybe you’ve heard the buzz, or maybe you’ve even seen it on one of your favorite food products – the FDA Nutrition Facts Label got a major makeover. When we consider the brief history in nutrition labeling in the United States, this revision to existing regulations was long overdue. Let’s take a look at the history of the Nutrition Facts Label to get a better understanding of why these changes were much needed. Continue Reading

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

Major developments in the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) have given the FDA new authority under the law. If the FDA decides to conduct a swabathon at your facility, you should expect a minimum of 100 to 300 swabs to be taken and a team of several investigators to conduct the swabathon. Based on the type of swabathon, you may also be required to hold production in your facility. This need is based on several factors, but, in particular, the zones that will be tested.

The FDA’s goal is to find pathogen isolates of Salmonella and or Listeria monocytogenes in and around the processing environment. As an outcome, the FDA will subsequently perform Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) on these Listeria monocytogenes isolates for their database. The FDA is now swabbing Zone 4 specifically for this purpose, with a WGS analysis of Salmonella expected to follow. The FDA’s zone focus will differ based on the environment and the specific pathogen they are seeking out. For Listeria monocytogenes, you can expect the FDA to begin sampling no sooner than 4 hours into production. 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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The top priority for most food manufacturers is protecting the food consumers eat. Yet, one of the major causes of product recalls in the food industry is product contamination in the processing environment by pathogens such as Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes. These pathogens take up residence within the structure of food plants and within the processing equipment itself. Once it makes a home there, it can contaminate the food products it comes into contact with as they make their way through the production process. Continue Reading