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

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

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

All domestic and foreign food facilities that manufacture, process, pack or store food for sale in the United States must register with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). According to recent government data, approximately 114,000 foreign food facilities exporting to the U.S. are located in more than 200 countries, and 19% of the American food supply is now imported.

The growing number of foreign food facilities and expanding volume of imported food is fueling an increasingly complex U.S. food supply chain. Imported food has been linked to several high-profile food safety events in recent years and remains a significant concern. In fact, one of the core objectives of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was to ensure the safety of imported food. Continue Reading

Environmental monitoring plays an instrumental role in ensuring food safety at plant facilities. Product contamination is a leading cause of recalls and FSMA will soon require verification of preventive measures taken to keep food safe. Accordingly, companies should invest in monitoring programs to catch potential problems before products are released for consumer consumption. Continue Reading

The seventh and final major rule mandated by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was recently published paving the way for the full implementation of the law. The final rule for mitigation strategies to prevent the intentional adulteration of food, also known as ‘food defense’, imposes new requirements for foreign and domestic food facilities. Following are eight points to know about the ‘food defense’ final rule and a few notes regarding the related issue of economically motivated adulteration. Continue Reading