Technical Tuesday: Recalls Raise Concerns About Shiga Toxin-Producing E. coli in Flour

Recently,  multiple foodborne outbreaks caused by shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) have been epidemiologically linked to the consumption of wheat flour. This has been a hot topic of discussion with many of our flour milling clients as well as manufacturers and retailers who use flour as an ingredient or sell flour to consumers. Many in the food industry are wondering if they should be changing their hazard analyses, environmental monitoring programs, ingredient testing or finished product testing. Continue reading Technical Tuesday: Recalls Raise Concerns About Shiga Toxin-Producing E. coli in Flour

Don’t Play ‘Chicken’ With Foodborne Illness: 5 Campylobacter Questions Answered

When consumers purchase chicken from the grocery store, they could be bringing home more than just a drumstick. Campylobacter has crept its way up the charts to become the top bacterial cause of reported foodborne illnesses in the United States. Move over, Salmonella! But how does Campylobacter infiltrate the food supply, and why is it seemingly on the rise? We’ve answered five need-to-know questions about Campylobacter below: Continue reading Don’t Play ‘Chicken’ With Foodborne Illness: 5 Campylobacter Questions Answered

Technical Tuesday: Using Whole Genome Sequencing to Better Decode Listeria Outbreaks

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 Technical Tuesday: Using Whole Genome Sequencing to Better Decode Listeria Outbreaks

Technical Tuesdays: Analyzing Government Reports on Illness Outbreaks and Recalls

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 Technical Tuesdays: Analyzing Government Reports on Illness Outbreaks and Recalls

Foodborne Viruses: What You Need To Know

Viruses are a leading cause of foodborne illness in the United States.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), viruses account for more than 50% of foodborne disease. Annually, Norovirus causes about 21 million illnesses and contributes to about 70,000 hospitalizations and 800 deaths.

Norovirus and Hepatitis A are the two main viruses of concern for the food industry.  Over the past several years, a number of Norovirus and Hepatitis A (HAV) outbreaks have been linked to a wide variety of foods, including berries, pomegranate seeds and oysters. While both viruses are transmitted via the fecal-oral route, they have very different durations and symptoms. Continue reading Foodborne Viruses: What You Need To Know

Cronobacter: An Emerging Pathogen Under the Microscope

Cronobacter, an emerging opportunistic foodborne pathogen, is posing an increased risk to the health of neonates, persons with immunocompromising conditions, the elderly, and even healthy adolescents and adults. This gram-negative, anaerobic, motile, and rod shaped bacteria exists in the environment and can survive in a variety of dry conditions. Due to the rarity of infections and wide variety of symptoms caused by Cronobacter, the bacterium is under-reported and not well understood in the United States. Continue reading Cronobacter: An Emerging Pathogen Under the Microscope