A well-known idiom attributed to Benjamin Franklin states, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This provides an apt analogy for the importance of proper nutrition for disease prevention in modern times. Consumers are often advised to modify their diets to prevent the progression of serious diseases. Moreover, the importance of understanding the evolving food labeling regulations cannot be underestimated for food companies seeking to prevent food product recalls and other enforcement activities related to labeling errors. Continue Reading

A decade ago, allergens were an uncommon cause of meat and poultry product recalls in the United States. The proportion of meat and poultry products recalled annually due to allergens steadily increased from 8% in 2008 to 35% in 2012 due to increased awareness of the issue by inspection personnel and establishments. Moreover, the total number of recall events involving meat and poultry products due to undeclared allergens increased 103% between the calendar years 2012 and 2015. Undeclared allergens have now become the leading reason for recalls of meat and poultry products from the U.S. marketplace. Continue Reading

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

On the regulatory front, 2016 presented many challenges for the North American food industry. While the year featured the initial implementation of FSMA regulations and passage of the GMO labeling law, the North American food industry was also confronted by a slew of regulatory changes related to food labeling.

Last year, the food industry monitored the development of several potentially significant regulatory initiatives with upcoming compliance dates, including the revision of the FDA Nutrition Facts Panel (July 26, 2018), menu labeling for restaurants (May 5, 2017) and the withdrawal of the GRAS status of PHOs (June 18, 2018). Continue Reading

Validation and verification are becoming new buzz words in the world of food microbiology, especially when it comes to quantitative and qualitative testing. This blog will focus on qualitative testing. Under a key Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) requirement, food manufacturers must ensure their matrices are tested using methods that have been validated by a recognized accrediting body for that particular food category.  The main food categories found in International Standards Organization (ISO) and AOAC INTERNATIONAL guidelines are then further sub-categorized on the basis of broad food categories and microbial load and recovery. To validate a category of foods, one matrix from each sub-category must be tested according to recognized validation processes to ensure the method is applicable to all types of foods in that category. Therefore, when a non-validated matrix is being tested, it is highly recommended, and required through FSMA, that there be some type of verification conducted for qualitative testing before using the method.  This is particularly important when results are to be used for regulatory purposes.  Continue Reading