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.

Technical Tuesday: Using Whole Genome Sequencing to Better Decode Listeria Outbreaks

Posted by L. Scott Donnelly, Ph.D

March 14, 2017 at 1:00 PM

whole_genome_sequencing_blog.jpgThe practice of whole genome sequencing (WGS) has received a great deal of attention in the food industry and among industry trade associations in recent years. Whole genome sequencing is a process that uses laboratory methods to determine or map the complete DNA sequence of an organism’s genome. Each microorganism has a unique genetic fingerprint that can be identified and traced using WGS. 

Disease detectives use WGS as an important tool in foodborne illness outbreaks and recall situations. It provides genetic information about the germs (microorganisms) making people sick. This information improves our ability to detect, investigate and stop future foodborne outbreaks.

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Topics: Environmental Monitoring, Environmental Control Program, Pathogens, Preventive Environmental Monitoring, Whole Genome Sequencing, Foodborne Illness, Listeria

The Maturity Model for Environmental Monitoring – Making Existing Plans Better

Posted by Tim Freier, Ph.D.

February 28, 2017 at 1:00 PM

maturity_model_blog.jpgBack in 1999, I started contributing as a developer and instructor for the “Advanced Listeria monocytogenes Intervention and Control Workshop,” presented by the American Meat Institute, which is now called the North American Meat Institute (NAMI). During the first few meetings, I took great interest in learning how each of the major US meat and poultry Ready-to-eat (RTE) manufacturers were conducting their Environmental Monitoring Programs (EMPs). A pledge by industry executives to keep food safety a non-competitive issue enabled open sharing, which brought some intense discussions as we worked towards a consensus of what constituted the true best practices for EMPs. This open forum, combined with a close collaborative interaction with the USDA- FSIS, allowed the US RTE meat and poultry industry to make tremendous strides in reducing the risk of L. monocytogenes. 

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Topics: Environmental Monitoring, Preventive Environmental Monitoring, Listeria, Maturity Model

The Environmental Monitoring Monologues: What About Mississippi?

Posted by Larry Bowman

February 20, 2017 at 10:00 AM

enviromap_blog.jpegSeveral years ago, I attended the International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) annual meeting, representing our new EnviroMap Software Solution. We spent almost five years developing a comprehensive product that would allow us to manage environmental sampling plans for food plants. Prior to that, we developed Laboratory Information Software solutions for food and energy labs for over ten years. From that experience, we recognized an emerging market for a comprehensive cost effective software tool to manage environmental sampling. This combined with the pending regulations of the new Food Safety Modernization Act made us certain that we had the ideal opportunity for our new software, EnviroMap. 

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Topics: Environmental Monitoring, Environmental Control Program, EnviroMap, Preventive Environmental Monitoring

How FDA “Swabathons” Factor Into Environmental Monitoring

Posted by Tim Freier, Ph.D.

February 7, 2017 at 10:00 AM

swabathon_blog copy.jpgRecently, significant changes have been made to how the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conducts investigations of food manufacturing facilities. For starters, note that I did not say FDA inspections; they are now investigations. This change in semantics indicates a shift from a superficial “look around” a facility to diving into records and sometimes taking hundreds of environmental pathogen samples. The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) has prompted many of these changes, and has given the FDA increased power and access to records. The FDA is also now much more likely than in the past to involve the Department of Justice if there is any possibility of criminal intent. Along with this significant new regulatory authority, the industry has seen major leaps forward in microbial strain tracking technology, the most important being Next Generation Sequencing and its use for Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS). 

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Topics: Environmental Monitoring, FDA, Preventive Environmental Monitoring, Whole Genome Sequencing, Swabathons

Preventive Environmental Monitoring for Pet Food Facilities

Posted by Stephanie A. Wilkins

October 26, 2016 at 1:00 PM

shutterstock_177594395.jpgA picture taken in the early 1980s shows me at age 3 eating dog treats out of my grandparents’ food pantry. I think back on that picture and recognize how things have changed in the last 30+ years when it comes to Food Safety, most recently for the Pet Food Industry. Environmental Monitoring or Product Testing Programs rarely existed back then, and the few that did exist lacked planning. If I had gotten sick from consuming contaminated pet food, my parents or doctors would never have assumed eating dog food/treats caused it.

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Topics: Environmental Monitoring, Pet Food, EnviroMap, Pathogens, Preventive Environmental Monitoring


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