Food Safety & Quality Blog
Mérieux NutriSciences is dedicated to helping companies worldwide find practical solutions to today's food safety and quality challenges throughout the supply chain.

Mérieux NutriSciences’ Scientist Publishes Food Safety Study in International Journal of Food Microbiology

Posted by Pam Coleman

February 16, 2017 at 10:00 AM

food_safety_study_blog.jpegI 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?

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Topics: Salmonella, Food Safety, Microbiology,, Food Testing, Research, Pathogens, International Journal of Food Microbiology, Sampling, Pathogen Testing

Technical Tuesdays: Harnessing Integrated Pest Management For Your Facility

Posted by Jeff Strout

February 14, 2017 at 10:00 AM

pest_blog_photo.jpgAs an auditor for over 35 years, I have noticed most food facilities do not fully understand the fundamentals of Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Many know about pest control, but they do not quite grasp the full power of establishing an effective IPM plan.  

There are five steps for establishing an effective IPM plan: 

1) Identify the Target Pests 
To create your IPM plan, you need to first fully identify the target pests for your facility and the surrounding area. This includes all pests, and is not limited to only the ones the local pest control contractor covers under their service plan. I have heard stories about deer, dogs and even chickens getting into facilities where they don’t belong. I’ve also seen facilities with hundreds of stray cats around the outside of the plant; others with thousands of birds flying outside; and some where bats, raccoons, possums and even an alligator managed to get inside. 

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Topics: Food Safety, Food Production, Pest Management, Facilities, Food Manufacturing, Pests

Regulatory Round-Up: New Canadian Food Safety Regulations Target International Harmonization

Posted by Patrick Kennedy

February 9, 2017 at 10:00 AM

sfca_blog.jpgBelieve it or not, it's been nearly five years since Canada approved its comprehensive food safety legislation known as the Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA). The legislation was developed to streamline Canada’s food safety regulations, improve regulatory oversight, and increase international regulatory alignment with its key trading partners, particularly the United States. To implement the legislation, Canada recently published the proposed Safe Food for Canadians Regulations. 

Foodborne illness affects an estimated four million Canadians annually, resulting in 238 deaths and nearly 12,000 hospitalizations. Since 2011, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has reported 84 recalls related to fresh fruits and vegetables, and more than 1,500 food product recalls attributed to non-federally registered establishments not covered by the existing commodity-based regulations. Health Canada has suggested the increasing incidents of food safety issues have been attributed to expanding consumer preferences for minimally processed foods (e.g. bagged salads) as well as new production and distribution systems.

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Topics: Food Safety, Regulations, Canada, CFIA, Preventive Controls, Safe Food for Canadians Act, Canadian Food Inspection Agency, SFCA

Technical Tuesdays: HACCP Program Use in Dairy Operations

Posted by Tedd Wittenbrink

January 31, 2017 at 10:00 AM

dairy_blog.jpgUsing Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles to manage food safety in the dairy industry is not a new concept. Most dairy manufacturers have already implemented HACCP as a process to manage food safety in addition to regulatory requirements. 

Although the FDA Preventive Controls for Human Food Rule is not required for Grade A dairies until September 2018, customers and retailers continue to require their suppliers to have an effective and operational HACCP Plan in place that is overseen by a trained individual. Additionally, Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) schemes such as Safe Quality Food Institute (SQF) and British Retail Consortium (BRC) also require HACCP implementation overseen by a trained individual. Finally, global organizations, such as The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), continue to recognize HACCP (Codex HACCP) as a system which identifies, evaluates, and controls hazards which are significant for food safety. 

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Topics: Food Safety, HACCP, Dairy, GFSI, Dairy Operations, SQF, Hazard Analysis, Dairy Industry, Global Food Safety Initiative, FAO, Safe Quality Food Institute

The Hidden Cost of Product Recalls

Posted by Seth Keller

January 19, 2017 at 10:00 AM

hidden_cost_recalls_blog.jpegIn 2016, various high profile recalls and minor scale recalls threatened the public safety of consumers across North America. Although it’s impossible to eliminate human error, and thus recalls entirely, it is paramount to understand the direct economic impact of recalls and related risks. Likewise, there are extensive efforts made by regulatory agencies to support food manufacturers as a supplement to the efforts your company should be making to ensure you remain off the recall lists in 2017.

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Topics: Food Safety, Environmental Monitoring, Recalls, FDA, Preventive Controls, Product Recalls

Technical Tuesdays: Protect It - It's Going to Animal Food

Posted by Jeff Strout

January 10, 2017 at 1:00 PM

animal_food_blog.jpgYears ago, I was in a production facility, and a worker threw some trash into a barrel of product destined for a local pig farmer. The worker thought his actions were acceptable because of the common belief that pigs eat anything. 

Over the years, many production facilities have taken products and by-products failing to meet finished product specifications and have sold them to “pig farmers” or other animal food companies. As I witnessed, sometimes employees would throw foreign material into the “pig food” or “animal food” container. Often, this product would be offered for “free” to farmers, as long as they picked it up frequently. Commonly, these containers on the back dock or in a walk-in refrigerator would not be labeled. Workers would throw trash in them because they were not trained about the risk of mixing trash with potential animal feed. 

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Topics: Food Safety, Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), Pet Food, FSMA, FSMA Compliance, Animal Food

Introducing Your Supply Chain Management Solution: QualMap

Posted by Kevin Hoffmann

January 5, 2017 at 10:00 AM

qualmap_blog_photo.jpegIs your supply chain keeping you up at night? As a food industry player, have you ever experienced difficulties in gathering the food safety data of your factories in a common format? Or made hazardous decisions because fact-based information was missing? Do your teams have to work hard to consolidate and analyze the information of suppliers? 

We get it - managing and understanding your supply chain data is a daunting task. Overseeing multiple applications, spreadsheets and data sets is inefficient, time consuming and can leave a lot of holes when comprehending the day-to-day operations of your business. 

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Topics: Food Safety, Data Management, Supply Chain, Supply Chain Management, Suppliers, QualMap, Supply Chain Data

Technical Tuesdays: Social Media as a Food Safety Informational Source

Posted by Jeff Lucas

January 3, 2017 at 10:00 AM

food_safety_social_media.jpgThirty two years ago, regular discussion about the field of food safety did not exist. Back then, information on food safety came from a limited number of sources. This included the ICMSF (International Commission for the Microbiological Specification for Foods) organized in 1962, the International Association for Food Protection (then called the International Association of Milk, Food and Environmental Sanitarians) organized in 1911, and a few loosely organized regional associations consisting primarily of academicians and state health departments. Sourcing information proved to be difficult, and books on the subject were limited and costly. 

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Topics: Food Safety, Research, Food Science, Social Media, Web Search

Regulatory Round-Up: FSIS Unveils Strategic Food Safety Goals

Posted by Patrick Kennedy

December 12, 2016 at 10:00 AM

regulatory_blog2.jpegThe USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) recently unveiled its five-year strategic plan for ensuring the safety of meat, poultry and processed egg products. Covering the fiscal years 2017-2021, the objectives of the Strategic Plan are classified within the core goals of preventing foodborne illness, modernizing inspection systems and scientific techniques, and improving operational excellence. 

To prevent product contamination and related illness from FSIS-regulated products, the agency intends to strengthen sampling programs, promote food defense practices, and ensure domestic establishments are meeting pathogen reduction performance standards. The alignment of domestic and international program sampling objectives and the strengthening of existing testing activities for imported products were identified as additional priorities. 

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Topics: FSIS, Food Safety, Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), FDA Regulation Updates, FDA, FSMA, Voluntary Qualified Importer Program, Whole Genome Sequencing

3 Food Safety Tips for the Holiday Season

Posted by Katie Schott

December 7, 2016 at 1:00 PM

holiday_blog2.jpegThe holidays bring a month full of family, friends, gifts and food. While you're making wonderful memories this year, remember that food safety plays a critical role in the holiday fun. Keep your loved ones healthy by implementing safe food handling at your celebration. Reduce the occurrence of inadvertent foodborne illness with these three easy-to-follow food safety tips:

1. Use a Meat Thermometer

Whether you prefer turkey or ham for your holiday dinner, make sure any meat you serve is cooked to the proper internal temperature. Timing the meat while it cooks, or looking at it to determine if it's ready to eat isn’t going to cut it, Aunt Rosie! 

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Topics: Food Safety, Holiday, Cooking, Holiday Meals, Kitchen Safety

Regulatory Round-Up: New FSMA Guidance Tackles Hazard Disclosure, VQIP

Posted by Patrick Kennedy

November 28, 2016 at 10:00 AM

regulatory_blog.jpegImplementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) regulations will continue despite the outcome of the recent presidential election and suggestions to reduce federal oversight of the food industry. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently published two guidance documents to support industry compliance with upcoming FSMA regulations, including the controversial FSMA requirement for disclosing hazards, and the Voluntary Qualified Importer Program (VQIP). 

Written disclosure statements for identifying hazards are mandated by four of the seven foundational FSMA rules, including the rules for preventive controls for human food, preventive controls for animal food, produce safety, and foreign supplier verification program (FSVP). 

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Topics: Food Safety, Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), FDA Regulation Updates, FDA, FSMA, Foreign Suppliers, Foreign Suppliers Verification Program, Voluntary Qualified Importer Program

Regulatory Round-Up: Industry Seeks Harmonization of Nutrition Compliance Dates

Posted by Patrick Kennedy

November 11, 2016 at 10:00 AM

Industry Seeks Harmonization of FDA Nutrition Mandates 

regulatory_roundup_2.jpegResponding to food industry requests to harmonize the compliance dates of upcoming food labeling and nutrition initiatives, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently clarified that the compliance dates are already coordinated to take effect in summer 2018. 

Industry groups contend, however, that it will be difficult for manufacturers to comply with the revised nutrition labeling rules since the agency has not yet provided key pieces of the regulatory puzzle. 

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Topics: Food Safety, Nutritional Labeling, FDA Regulation Updates, FDA, Nutrition

Regulatory Round-Up: New Criteria for "Healthy" Foods

Posted by Patrick Kennedy

October 31, 2016 at 10:00 AM

FDA Revising Criteria for “Healthy” Food

regulatory_round_up_blog.jpegReflecting the latest scientific information, including the link between diet and chronic diseases, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a final guidance in late September to stipulate the approved use of the labeling claim “healthy” on packaged foods and to request industry comments regarding the use of the term. Industry comments should inform FDA’s efforts to redefine the term “healthy” in order to align with the new final rules for updating the Nutrition Facts Panel and serving size information for packaged foods.

The final guidance advised food manufacturers of the agency’s intent to exercise enforcement discretion regarding use of the implied nutrient content claim “healthy” relative to the latest recommendations. The guidance highlights acceptable uses for the labeling term relative to low fat, and beneficial nutrients such as potassium and vitamin D.

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Topics: Food Safety, Nutritional Labeling, FDA Regulation Updates, FDA, Nutrition, Health Claims

Regulatory Round-Up: Implementation of FSMA Produce Safety and Foreign Suppliers Verification Programs

Posted by Patrick Kennedy

October 17, 2016 at 10:00 AM

States Preparing to Implement Produce Safety Rule

fruit_and_vegetable.jpgA partnership between federal and state regulators is vital for the successful implementation of the produce safety programs mandated by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). On September 9, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that 42 states will receive $21.8 million over a five-year period to facilitate the implementation of the produce safety rules. The participation of state regulators in the implementation of state produce safety programs is dependent upon federal funds, according to the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA). State and federal agencies will begin to coordinate efforts soon as certain produce safety requirements will take effect in January 2018 for large farms.

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Topics: Food Safety, FDA Regulation Updates, FDA, Produce, Foreign Suppliers, Foreign Suppliers Verification Program, Produce Safety

Analytical Association Recognizes Mérieux NutriSciences Scientist

Posted by Pam Coleman

October 10, 2016 at 1:30 PM

meat_analysis.jpgBack in 1984, as a very young scientist, I attended my first meeting of the Association of Official Analytical Chemists (AOAC), now AOAC INTERNATIONAL. Established over a century ago, the association is dedicated to ensuring analytical methods address the needs of stakeholders in several industries, including the food industry.

Through its work, AOAC helps companies state the nutritional value of products with added confidence while minimizing health risks associated with microbiological and chemical contaminants. AOAC INTERNATIONAL conducts Expert Review Panels, publishes Official Methods of Analysis, and sets standards for analytical performance for methods. Under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), AOAC is now addressing a broader scope of complex food safety issues than back in 1984. As a leader in the food safety industry, Mérieux NutriSciences scientists have been heavily involved in the association over the past three decades.

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Topics: Food Safety, Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), Research, Food Science, Method Validations, AOAC

Regulatory Round-Up: Proposition 65 and Infant Formula Health Claims

Posted by Patrick Kennedy

October 3, 2016 at 10:00 AM

Proposition 65 Update – Aspartame, Vinyl Acetate, Nitrite 

regulatory_compliance-3.jpgAn upcoming meeting of California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) will consider the carcinogenic risks of several food, pesticide and packaging chemicals, including aspartame. OEHHA, the agency responsible for maintaining the state’s Proposition 65 list of chemicals known to cause cancer, recently released hazard identification materials for several chemicals to facilitate public consultation. Under Proposition 65, products containing a listed chemical in excess of the regulatory threshold must display a warning label indicating the presence of a known carcinogen or toxin.

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Topics: Food Safety, FDA Regulation Updates, FDA, Infant Formula, Proposition 65, Health Claims

Preventing Listeria and Other Pathogens in Food Production

Posted by Paige Krzysko

September 26, 2016 at 2:00 PM

dreamstime_m_79316.jpgIn preventing foodborne illnesses, several different factors play a pivotal role in safeguarding final products. Several recent recalls associated with Listeria monocytogenes are prompting food manufacturers to ensure their food safety management plans address all possible sources of in-plant contamination.

Listeria can be life-threatening to individuals with weakened immune systems, pregnant women or older adults. Dairy, prepared foods, produce and seafood were the matrices most commonly contaminated with Listeria over the past five years, according to data from the latest FDA Reportable Food Registry (RFR) report.

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Topics: Food Safety, Environmental Monitoring, Microbiology,, Food Testing, Pathogens

What Mérieux NutriSciences Did This Summer: IFT and IAFP Post-Show Highlights

Posted by Pam Coleman

August 12, 2016 at 10:30 AM

summer_blog_3.pngWhile some dive headfirst into summer vacation, research scientists from the Silliker Food Science Center (FSC) dove headfirst into the “show season” by bringing their expertise to the 2016 meetings of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) and International Association for Food Protection (IAFP).

Our multi-tasking research scientists manned our exhibition booths, met with customers, attended sessions on industry trends, reviewed advances in diagnostic equipment and presented results from scientific projects, many of which were conducted in collaboration with industry leading companies.

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Topics: Food Safety, Trade Shows, IFT, IAFP

FSMA and Imported Food – Will the FDA’s New Strategy Improve Food Safety?

Posted by Patrick Kennedy

July 29, 2016 at 9:30 AM

containers.jpgAll domestic and foreign food facilities that manufacturer, process, pack or store food for sale in the United States must register with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). According to recent government data, approximately 114,000 foreign food facilities exporting to the U.S. are located in more than 200 countries, and 19% of the American food supply is now imported.

The growing number of foreign food facilities and expanding volume of imported food is fueling an increasingly complex U.S. food supply chain. Imported food has been linked to several high profile food safety events in recent years and remains a significant concern. In fact, one of the core objectives of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was to ensure the safety of imported food.

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Topics: Food Safety, Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), FSMA, Imported Food

The Importance of a Strategic Environmental Monitoring Program

Posted by Paige Krzysko

July 22, 2016 at 9:30 AM

brochure3_blog.pngEnvironmental monitoring plays an instrumental role in ensuring food safety at plant facilities. Product contamination is a leading cause of recalls and FSMA will soon require verification of preventive measures taken to keep food safe. Accordingly, companies should invest in monitoring programs to catch potential problems before products are released for consumer consumption.

To develop a comprehensive food safety program under FSMA, plant management teams need to determine the areas in a facility where hazards may exist, establish preventive controls and verify that those controls are effective. This ties directly into environmental monitoring because companies are strongly recommended to regularly collect samples from different areas of production plants, particularly in areas with potential hazards.

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Topics: Food Safety, Food Safety Training, Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), Environmental Monitoring, Training, FSMA


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