The beginning of the year brings a time to evaluate the previous year and set resolutions for the next twelve months. As you examine the internal processes at your facility, consider the environmental monitoring data that you put so much time and money into generating. How can you extract greater value from that data to improve your food safety program? Let’s resolve to go beyond reviewing “new” CoAs, updating a spreadsheet of “hot spots” and filing that information away where it’s unlikely to be reviewed again. Continue Reading

Are you experiencing shelf-life issues or increased numbers of Listeria findings in a Ready-to-Eat foods environment? If so, you may want to take a deep dive into your equipment.

Largely, as a consequence of Listeria control efforts, most of us have at least a basic knowledge of hygienic equipment design. In truth, though, we often find inadequacies in the design of the equipment in our facilities, which are magnified with age and/or inadequate maintenance. Couple this with the widespread use of high-pressure water hoses and their ability to drive product residue, microorganisms and water deep inside equipment, and you have all the components needed to create a microbial growth niche. Continue Reading

Hygienic zoning is a key critical preventive control that often does not get the attention that it deserves. The basic concept of hygienic zoning is to divide a food or feed manufacturing facility into defined areas based on food safety risks. This is commonly used to control microbiological risks but also for other segregation needs, such as allergen control, physical hazards or GMO versus non-GMO. Continue Reading

As the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) moves forward with Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) implementation, food companies are beginning to realize the need for effective environmental monitoring procedures to minimize microbial cross-contamination and allergen cross-contact. In developing the Preventive Controls Rule for Human Food, the FDA revised the antiquated Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) once contained in 21 CFR Part 110 and now published in 21 CFR Part 117. In doing so, the FDA has been very specific in addressing environmental contamination in the revised GMPs and in the new Preventive Control regulations.  Continue Reading

For over 20 years, the food industry has been steadfast in our view of the role of sanitation in classical Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) programs. Our experience with meat and poultry HACCP by way of the International HACCP Alliance and what came later with Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) HACCP requirements solidified the supportive role of sanitation as a food safety prerequisite program. We have managed sanitation as a separate prerequisite program, and then used these programs to eliminate the need for sanitation critical control points. However, compliance with the Preventive Controls Rule for Human Food (PCHF) as part of the Food Safety Modernization Act requires a different approach in how we manage sanitation procedures that directly addresses a food safety hazard identified in the hazard analysis. Continue Reading

Microbial cross-contamination – the transfer of harmful bacteria to food products – remains a leading cause of foodborne illness and disease. To minimize the spread of microorganisms and protect the safety of finished products, processors are advised to adhere to Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs), educate plant workers on the dangers of cross-contamination and implore how their activities can contribute to or prevent its occurrence. Continue Reading

Billions of tons of food are lost in the United States each year to fungal contamination, most notably mold damage. Often working in combination with yeast and bacteria, molds are essential in the production of numerous indigenous fermented foods and are heavily used in industrial processes to produce organic acids and enzymes. At the same time, molds are a leading concern in the food plant environment. Under certain conditions, some molds may produce mycotoxins which are toxic to man and animals. Continue Reading