I once jokingly said during a presentation that there were at least 10 ways to sabotage your food pathogen testing program. While no conscientious food safety leader would set out to negatively impact their own program, the high attention to detail and constant organizational discipline required for an effective testing program leave some room for error. If any small step is not well designed and expertly executed, then your entire program may be worthless – or worse – may cost you millions due to a recall or human illnesses. One factor in particular that manufacturers need to focus their attention on is the reliability of their pathogen sampling and compositing (pooling) strategy, as well as the applicability of their pathogen method. Specifically, what test portion should be taken to ensure accurate results, and what method should be used when testing for the presence of pathogens? Continue Reading

Detection methods for foodborne pathogens and spoilage organisms have come a long way from traditional cultural methods. Advances in technology have led the evolution into rapid detection methods, whether they are antibody-based or nucleic acid-based (i.e., DNA or RNA). These rapid detection methods have been widely adopted by the food industry. However, with so many assays, kits, and methods available, it can be daunting to know where to start when choosing a rapid detection method that fits all your needs and requirements.  While there are many factors to consider, here are five to keep in mind: Continue Reading

Campylobacter Background:

Campylobacter is a less commonly known organism that has quickly become an emerging hot topic in food microbiology in recent years due to various recalls, news articles and evolving government regulations. Surprisingly, this genus of spiral-shaped, microaerophilic bacteria is the most commonly reported bacterial cause of gastroenteritis from foodborne sources in the United States, outranking E. coli, Salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus and other more well known microorganisms.   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

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