Improving nutrition for the burgeoning global population is one of today’s major public health challenges. According to the World Health Organization, millions of children suffer from undernutrition in low and middle-income countries each year, and global estimates suggest that more than 40 million children living in urban and high-income countries under five years of age are either overweight or obese. Both of these issues are considered malnutrition, as they stem from an imbalance in micro and macronutrient intake, as well as lead to high risks of subsequent disease and mortality. Continue Reading

Despite continuing technological advancements, preventing products from becoming contaminated with pathogens remains a challenge in the food industry. To monitor foodborne illness, the Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet) actively conducts surveillance of laboratory-diagnosed infections caused by pathogens commonly transmitted through food sources.

FoodNet is a partnership between the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, 10 state health departments and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It monitors infections due to: Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium, Cyclospora, Listeria, Salmonella, STEC, Shigella, Vibrio and Yersinia. To gather the data, outbreaks are monitored at 10 sites throughout the country that account for approximately 15% of the U.S. population. In 2016, FoodNet tracked outbreaks for an estimated 49 million people. The preliminary 2017 FoodNet surveillance data shows that foodborne illness continues to be a considerable health burden despite ongoing food safety measures. Below are three key questions raised by examining the 2017 FoodNet data: Continue Reading

I’ll be honest – from time to time, I enjoy throwing on my teal yoga pants and visiting my favorite organic supermarket. I love perusing the endless rows of organic and otherwise non-Genetically Modified Organism (non-GMO) products adorning shelf upon shelf. With all of those “verified” and “certified” products smiling down at me, how can I not smile back? After all, like many shoppers, I place my trust in progressive statements on food labels, such as “Organic,” “non-GMO,” “Fair Trade,” “Hormone-Free,” “Allergen-Free,” and the list goes on. Before I leave the store, my cart is adorned with at least three or four items bearing one of these claims. Continue Reading

Questions about the safety of fresh produce are in the headlines again following recent North American outbreaks involving Salmonella in sprouts, Salmonella in papayas and E. coli O157:H7 linked to romaine lettuce. Moreover, the Produce Safety rule of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) took effect for large farms in January, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) implemented the next stage of its targeted sampling program for fresh produce and related commodities. Continue Reading

Microbial identification and organism typing provide the food industry with a way to identify organisms and sub-species of those organisms. Laboratories specializing in this type of testing offer food companies a way to determine which harmful organisms may be present in their production plant ecology, as well as a particular ingredient or product that is out of specification. Additionally, this testing provides a way to confirm the presence of beneficial organisms in a product. Continue Reading

Our expert scientists are at the heart of everything we do at Mérieux NutriSciences, and they work hard every day to uphold our mission to protect consumers’ health. With that in mind, I recently interviewed Dr. Amy Parks, the Research Project Manager for Specialized Services at the Silliker Food Science Center (FSC), to learn about her background and expertise. She told me about her experience in the food industry, her role at Mérieux NutriSciences and why she enjoys working to ensure food safety and quality. Read on to learn more about Dr. Parks: Continue Reading

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

In addition to routine screening for harmful pathogens, bacterial species identification and further strain differentiation play an important role in food safety and quality investigations. These methods can offer an immediate classification of an existing or new problem in a given facility. Additionally, the resulting data gives manufacturers the ability to track contamination strains and map the bacterial flora present within their facility in order to monitor raw materials, surfaces, finished product and overall sanitation effectiveness. Continue Reading