Publisher’s Platform: Listeria kills – especially the elderly
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/12/publishers-platform-listeria-kills-especially-the-elderly/#.WFc13fmLSUl
BY BILL MARLER (Dec 18, 2016)
The European Food Safety Authority issued a report last week that European experts have noted an increasing trend in Europe of listeriosis since 2008, but they highlight that the number of affected people stabilized from 2014 to 2015.
Infections were mostly reported in people over 64 years of age. Listeriosis affected about 2,200 people in 2015, causing 270 deaths – the highest number ever reported in the EU. The proportion of cases in the over 64 age group steadily increased from 56% in 2008 to 64% in 2015. Additionally, in this period, the number of reported cases and their proportion has almost doubled in those over 84 years.
In the U.S. I am a bit too familiar with the horrors of the bug – especially on the elderly. I think we all recall the Jensen Farms Cantaloupe Listeria outbreak of 2011. The CDC reported that 147 people were infected with any of the five outbreak-associated subtypes of Listeria. These people lived in 28 states. The number of infected identified in each state was as follows: Alabama (1), Arkansas (1), California (4), Colorado (40), Idaho (2), Illinois (4), Indiana (3), Iowa (1), Kansas (11), Louisiana (2), Maryland (1), Missouri (7), Montana (2), Nebraska (6), Nevada (1), New Mexico (15), New York (2), North Dakota (2), Oklahoma (12), Oregon (1), Pennsylvania (1), South Dakota (1), Texas (18), Utah (1), Virginia (1), West Virginia (1), Wisconsin (2), and Wyoming (4).
The number of outbreak-associated deaths totaled 33. In addition, one woman pregnant at the time of illness had a miscarriage. Ten other deaths not officially attributed to listeriosis occurred among people who had been infected with an outbreak-associated subtype.
Among people for whom information was available, ages ranged from less than 1 to 96 years, with a median age of 78 years. Most ill people were over 60 years old. Fifty-eight percent of the ill were female. Among the 145 ill people with available information on whether they were hospitalized, 143 (99%) were hospitalized.
And, it is very real:
Half of antibiotic resistant Salmonella cases from 4 serotypes
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/12/more-than-half-of-antibiotic-resistant-salmonella-from-4-types/#.WFc1LfmLSUl
BY CIDRAP (Dec 17, 2016)
Editor’s note: CIDRAP News originally published this report by Chris Dall on Dec. 15, 2016.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week published new estimates of the incidence of antibiotic-resistant Salmonella infections in the United States, putting the burden at about 6,200 cases annually.
In a report in Emerging Infectious Diseases, CDC researchers estimate the overall incidence of resistant salmonella infections as roughly 2 for 100,000 people per year from 2004 to 2012. They also determined that clinically important resistance was linked to four specific Salmonella serotypes: Enteritidis, Newport, Typhimurium and Heidelberg.
Nontyphoidal Salmonella causes an estimated 1.2 million foodborne illnesses and about 450 deaths each year, according to the CDC. While most people who get Salmonella infections recover within a week and do not require antibiotics, more severe infections are generally treated with either ampicillin, ceftriaxone or ciprofloxacin. Resistance to these drugs can result in increased hospitalization, invasive illnesses and death.
Estimates based on surveillance data
The new estimates are based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau and from two surveillance systems the CDC uses to track Salmonella and drug-resistant Salmonella: The National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) and the Laboratory-based Enteric Disease Surveillance (LEDS) system.
NARMS monitors resistance in Salmonella by testing isolates from infected individuals and determining the percentage of isolates that show resistance. LEDS collects Salmonella surveillance data, including serotypes, from state and territorial public health labs.
The researchers defined three mutually exclusive categories of resistance for the study: ampicillin-only resistance, ceftriaxone/ampicillin resistance and ciprofloxacin nonsusceptibility.
According to the LEDS data, there were 369,254 culture-confirmed Salmonella infections from 2004 through 2012. Four primary serotypes — Enteritidis, Typhimurium, Newport and Heidelberg — accounted for 52 percent of all fully serotyped isolates.
NARMS tested 19,410 isolates from 2004 through 2012, and overall resistance was detected in 2,320 isolates. Ampicillin-only resistance was the most common resistance pattern detected, followed by ceftriaxone/ampicillin resistance and ciprofloxacin nonsusceptibility.
Using these data, the researchers determined that from 2004 to 2012 there were approximately 6,200 resistant culture-confirmed infections annually. Overall incidence was 1.93/100,000 person-years for any clinically important resistance, 1.07 for ampicillin-only resistance, 0.51 for ceftriaxone/ampicillin resistance, and 0.35 for ciprofloxacin nonsusceptibility.
Four primary serotypes responsible for resistance
The authors note that while Enteritidis, Typhimurium, Newport and Heidelberg account for only half of all culture-confirmed Salmonella infections, the four serotypes accounted for 73 percent of the Salmonella infections that involved clinically important resistance.
The predominance of these four serotypes, they write, reflects their ability to persist in food animals, be transmitted through the food system, and cause illness. It also suggests that strategies to reduce Salmonella infections caused by these four serotypes could have an impact on the incidence of resistant infections overall.
“The 4 major serotypes that have been driving the incidence of resistant infections should continue to be high priorities in combating resistance,” the authors write.
The report also notes that two of these serotypes — Typhimurium and Newport — have been associated with outbreaks of drug-resistant Salmonella infections linked to contaminated meat, which highlights the need for NARMS to continue monitoring emerging resistance patterns by serotype.
The authors caution, however, that while this estimate of resistant Salmonella infection incidence will help define the magnitude of the problem and guide prevention efforts, it might be telling only part of the story. That’s because it relies on culture-confirmed infections only.
The CDC has estimated that for every culture-confirmed case of Salmonella, there may as many as 29 undetected cases. That could put the annual U.S. incidence as high as 180,000 cases.
Note on the author: CIDRAP, the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, is based at the Academic Health Center at the University of Minnesota-Minneapolis. It works to prevent illness and death from targeted infectious disease threats through research and the translation of scientific information into real-world, practical applications, policies and solutions.
Remember food safety this holiday season
Source : http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/remember_food_safety_this_holiday_season
By Joyce McGarry, Michigan State University Extension (Dec 16, 2016)
Holidays are a great way to come together with family and friends, but the invitation should not include illness causing bacteria. Keeping foods safe during this hectic season can be challenging, whether you are traveling with food or preparing it at home.
Perishable foods, such as meats, cooked vegetables, dairy products, casseroles, if kept at room temperature for two or more hours may contaminate food with bacteria and cause illness. To decrease the risk of foodborne illness Michigan State University Extension suggests keeping cold foods at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below and hot foods at 140 degrees F or above will keep food out of the “danger zone” of 40 and 140 degrees F.
Don’t forget the leftovers! It is important to refrigerate them promptly and reheat properly. You cannot see or smell harmful bacteria if it has started to grow on your refrigerated foods or leftovers.
Here are a few steps to safely store and reheat leftover food:
Divide large quantities of food into smaller containers for faster cool down and store in a 40 degree F refrigerator or freeze within two hours of cooking.
Use refrigerated leftovers within three to four days and frozen leftovers within four months.
Reheat leftovers to 165 degrees F, always using a food thermometer to check the internal temperature.
Thaw frozen leftovers in the refrigerator or microwave.
It is safe to reheat leftovers from a frozen state, either in a saucepan or microwave. Reheating will take longer than if the food is thawed.
This article was published by Michigan State University Extension. For more information, visit http://www.msue.msu.edu. To have a digest of information delivered straight to your email inbox, visit http://www.msue.msu.edu/newsletters. To contact an expert in your area, visit http://expert.msue.msu.edu, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).
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Is It Time for a “Kill Step” for Pathogens on Produce at Retail?
Source : http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/magazine-archive1/december-2016january-2017/is-it-time-for-a-e2809ckill-stepe2809d-for-pathogens-on-produce-at-retail/
By Hal King, Ph.D., and Eric Moorman
Outbreaks of foodborne diseases from fresh and fresh-cut produce continue to occur in the United States; historically, fresh and fresh-cut produce cause more illnesses and higher numbers of foodborne diseases than any other food commodity. In a 2015 analysis and report of data collected between 2004 and 2013 from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Foodborne Outbreak Database, the number of confirmed foodborne disease outbreaks (source identified) related to fresh and fresh-cut produce was higher than for any other single food category, including beef, poultry and seafood. Only multi-ingredient, nonmeat foods registered higher, probably because they were combinations of produce commodities not confined to a single ingredient in the outbreak investigations. This same analysis showed that not only was fresh produce the most common cause of outbreaks, but also when an outbreak occurred due to fresh produce, the adulterated fresh-produce commodity also caused the largest number of illnesses in each outbreak among all the food categories (Figure 1).
Of course, these data don’t truly reflect the actual number of outbreaks due to fresh produce commodities nor the number of illnesses and deaths that occurred in each outbreak, as the number of reported outbreaks generally represents only a fraction of the actual number of outbreaks in any given year.
Microbial Contamination of Produce: What Is the Risk?
Because the “farm to fork” distribution of fresh (e.g., bulk whole produce) and fresh-cut (e.g., processed) produce does not routinely include a microbial elimination step (e.g., like cooking), produce naturally carries many commensal, nonharmful microorganisms. However, because of this, some produce also occasionally carries microbial pathogens that have contaminated it somewhere along the supply chain (Figure 2), sometimes with very lethal results. The microbial pathogens most commonly associated with produce-related outbreaks (Table 1) are also associated with predicted, low infectious doses for human infection (i.e., numbers of microbes that one would need to ingest that would lead to an infectious disease); thus, even low levels of contamination of produce with these most common microbial pathogens often lead to a high probability of infectious disease after consumption. A recent study of the microbiological quality and safety of fresh produce from retail chain stores in the U.S. suggests that only a few produce commodities are occasionally contaminated with microbial pathogens over time. Only four specimens of produce from 414 samples collected over a year’s time from three chain retail establishments were positive for human pathogens (Listeria monocytogenes and Escherichia coli O157:H7 on one spinach sample each and two Salmonella spp. on one cilantro and one parsley sample each).
The variables related to the degree of microbial pathogen contamination and colonization of produce are very high, but the number of microbial pathogens on any produce commodity and/or a single produce item is thought to be low unless there is an overt contamination event (e.g., transporting produce in a truck used to previously transport hogs), temperature abuse (growth of the pathogens on the produce) or cross-contamination and spreading during fresh-cut processing in a manufacturing facility or in a retail foodservice establishment (e.g., with raw chicken juice in produce sinks in a retail foodservice establishment). The continual challenges of developing, validating, implementing, monitoring and verifying preventive controls during the farming and processing of produce, and the lack of a “kill step,” will continue to make produce a high-risk food. Many validated preventive controls may reduce this risk when the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) rules on produce safety are implemented for the safe growing, harvesting, packing and holding of fruits and vegetables grown for human consumption, and when fresh-cut produce is prepared in a facility according to the FSMA Preventive Controls for Human Food rule, both mandated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, much needs to be done to ensure all possible microbial hazards can be prevented by the implementation of these rules.
It is not the purpose of this article to review all the events that can lead to contamination of fresh and fresh-cut produce, which are extensively reported and continue to be discovered after each new outbreak investigation and/or recall. It is also not our purpose to discuss all the preventive controls that might avert the hazards along the supply chain. However, from our perspectives (i.e., academic and retail food business training and experience), it is the probability of the hazards associated with a commodity most often produced and harvested from the soil, the likely failure to prevent all contamination and pathogen growth events, the low infectious dose of the pathogens and the historically large number of produce foodborne disease outbreaks that led us to discuss here the need and propose options for a new set of preventive controls for produce at retail sales and retail foodservice establishments. Both represent the last opportunity to remove the microbial hazards before human consumption and prevent a foodborne illness.
Criteria for a Kill Step for Produce to Be Performed at Retail
The best means to further reduce or eliminate microbial hazards associated with produce before consumption is to implement a kill step at retail. This kill step should include defined controls that can remove and eliminate the microbial pathogens (i.e., while still attached to the produce) on all fresh produce commodities and in any wash water to prevent cross-contamination of the produce before a product is prepared and served. The kill step should be validated for efficacy against microbial pathogens by science via peer-reviewed research, and the wash/sanitizer solutions should be certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for efficacy against the most common microbial pathogens associated with fresh-cut and fresh produce (e.g., Table 1), approved for safe use on human foods by FDA, available in a format and procedure that can be executed consistently in a retail sales and foodservice establishment and provide the same quality, nutrition and flavor/sensory profile to consumers as fresh produce washed in tap water.
FDA has approved several chemical agents for use in produce wash processes that are generally recognized as safe (GRAS) in accordance with the rules of use in 21 C.F.R. 173.315, 21 C.F.R. 173.368 and 21 C.F.R. 173.300 (Table 2). These chemicals have extensive evidence for their effectiveness as produce wash agents (against dirt, waxes and microbes) and scientifically validated antimicrobial efficacy against microbial pathogens. Many of the chemicals that FDA has approved may be used only at defined concentrations and/or may not be used without a secondary rinse, and some may not be used for washing raw agricultural commodities. The definition of a raw agricultural commodity, according to 40 C.F.R. 180, includes fresh fruits, whether or not they have been washed and colored or otherwise treated in their unpeeled natural form; vegetables in their raw or natural state, whether or not they have been stripped of their outer leaves, waxed, prepared into fresh green salads, etc.; and grains, nuts, eggs, raw milk, meats and similar agricultural produce. It does not include foods that have been processed, fabricated or manufactured by cooking, freezing, dehydrating or milling.
Most of the chemicals have also been certified by EPA in some concentration and/or combination with other chemicals by manufacturers as produce wash agents or antimicrobial fruit and vegetable wash products. For example, a sodium dodecylbenzene sulfonate and lactic acid mixture has been EPA-certified for efficacy against microbial pathogens in produce wash water. However, while this fresh produce wash is not certified to effectively kill microbial pathogens attached to produce, it is an effective means to prevent recontamination of produce during washing (i.e., any pathogen numbers rinsed off the produce during treatment for the designated time will be reduced by a defined percent or log reduction).
Two additional criteria should be met to ensure the most effective kill step for microbial pathogens on produce. First, the procedure should remove and kill pathogens while attached on the produce commodity and in the wash water (as pathogens “seed” the wash water during treatment where they could recontaminate the produce). Second, the procedure should be more effective than water-washing produce alone (the current requirement at retail). Despite the degree of variance due to differences in surface characteristics of produce, time, temperature and methods of inoculation, washing fresh produce with tap water typically results in an approximate 1-log reduction in microbial load on the majority of produce items that have been evaluated. Finally, a produce wash step is probably as important as a produce sanitation step (like washing and sanitizing dishes or cleaning and then sanitizing a food contact surface), where a wash step first would remove dirt and most microbial pathogens and then a sanitation step would kill the remaining pathogens attached to the produce commodity and those in the wash water. Thus, a true validation of a produce wash-and-sanitation system should be how many bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi are removed off the produce commodity and then how many of each are killed when in the wash water; thus, the kill step may probably be a two-step process.
Example steps in a produce wash-and-sanitation system:
RINSE—No rinse WASH—No rinse SANITIZE—PREP—SERVE
Criteria for Chemicals That Could Be Used for a Kill Step for Produce
Three sanitation technologies currently recognized by FDA for their applicability to produce sanitation include ozone (21 C.F.R. 173.368), hypochlorous acid (21 C.F.R. 173.315) and chlorine dioxide (21 C.F.R. 173.300); all three of these technologies can be generated on-site, have a short shelf life and do not leave residuals on produce, and are relatively efficacious at reducing microbial pathogens when attached to produce at concentrations that are at the highest available and allowable levels. Although each of these antimicrobial agents functions primarily through oxidation-reduction reactions, each has its own set of chemical nuances, including generation method(s) and ease thereof, regulatory limits on allowable concentrations and compulsory practices, and exposure (concentration as a gas or liquid, and contact time) required for antimicrobial efficacy on produce. EPA does not require registration of sanitizer solutions generated and used on-site. As a result, sanitation technologies capable of on-site generation must be validated by the device manufacturer. However, in our opinion, because any chemical used in direct contact with food could be abused/misused, these on-site generator systems if used in retail facilities should be physically restricted from producing concentrations above regulated limits, and any device manufacturer should have the final concentration registered with EPA (e.g., output solution with validated claims for efficacy and safety).
To evaluate which of the three chemicals would be the most feasible sanitizer solution to use in a produce wash-and-sanitation system at retail, we consolidated the findings (Tables 3[8–11] and 4[8, 9, 12–16]) of nine published research articles that evaluated the ability of each chemical to reduce E. coli O157:H7, L. monocytogenes and Salmonella spp. adhered to iceberg and romaine lettuce leaves (believed to be two of the more difficult produce commodities to sanitize). These data certainly are not a comprehensive set of evaluations of these chemicals, nor do they include all the other data published showing efficacy against pathogens on different produce commodities under other variables. We only consolidated these data to demonstrate differences and similarities of efficacy on similar produce commodities (leafy greens).
Data from these research studies utilized either a dip-inoculation method (Table 3[8–11]) or a spot-inoculation method (Table 4[8, 9, 12–16]), where the test pathogens were seeded onto the produce commodity by dipping the produce into a solution containing the pathogen (distributing the pathogen uniformly on the produce) or inoculating the test pathogen in a solution directly onto a single spot on the produce, respectively. These inoculation methods are not natural, of course, as they attempt to adhere the pathogens to the surface of the produce, allow for enumeration of the pathogen numbers before treatment and then allow for enumeration of the remaining viable pathogens after treatment. It would be difficult to mimic the exact variables of natural microbial pathogen adherence to all produce commodity types (e.g., pathogens in different types of water or directly from feces, or via irrigation water, how long the pathogens have been on the produce and at what temperature, how many of the pathogens remain on the produce initially and then grow due to temperature abuse). However, these consolidated findings in our view are the best way to determine which of the methods would probably work best as a produce sanitizer according to the criteria above.
As one of several oxides of chlorine, chlorine dioxide (ClO2) is a potent and useful oxidizing agent used in water treatment and in bleaching. ClO2 is a neutral chlorine compound. It is very different from elementary chlorine, both in its chemical structure and in its behavior. One of the most important qualities of ClO2 is its high water solubility, especially in cold water. ClO2 does not hydrolyze when it enters water; it remains like a dissolved gas in solution. ClO2 is approximately 10 times more soluble in water than chlorine, and it is a compound that can decompose violently when separated from diluting substances. As a result, preparation methods that involve producing solutions of it without going through a gas phase are often preferred. Arranging safe handling is essential. ClO2 is reported to have 2.5 times the oxidation capacity of chlorine, maintains its efficacy in both aqueous and gaseous forms and is less affected by changes in pH. Therefore, this chemical should make an excellent produce sanitizer; the ability of ClO2 to reduce levels of pathogenic bacteria is well validated. However, all concentrations with the best efficacies (Tables 3[8–11] and 4[8, 9, 12–16]) are greater than the maximum concentration permissible by FDA (3 ppm). Therefore, this chemical probably would not best fit the criteria for produce sanitation in a retail facility.
Hypochlorous acid is a weak acid with the chemical formula HOCl. It forms when chlorine dissolves in water and partially dissociates in water into hypochlorite and hydronium ions. HOCl and OCl- are the primary agents for disinfection when chlorine is used to disinfect water for human use. HOCl cannot be isolated in pure form due to rapid equilibration with its precursor. It is an oxidizer, and in its sodium salt form, sodium hypochlorite (NaClO), or in its calcium salt form, calcium hypochlorite [Ca(ClO)2], can be used as a bleach, a deodorant and a disinfectant. HOCl can be generated through the electrolysis of dilute brine solutions (0.1–1.0% NaCl) and is able to maintain efficacy at slightly acidic and near-neutral pH values [which differs from its sodium salt form, sodium hypochlorite (bleach), which functions at a relatively high pH]. Devices capable of on-site generation are offered by numerous manufacturers, and function using sodium chloride as the only chemical input. The method by which lettuce is contaminated with microbial pathogens greatly impacts HOCl efficacy (Tables 2 and 3[8–11]). Studies utilizing dip-inoculation methods reported 0.7- to 1.4-log reductions of E. coli O157:H7 after a 1- to 2-minute treatment with HOCl at a concentration of 50 ppm (Table 2). However, when lettuce was contaminated using the spot-inoculation method, HOCl was capable of slightly less than 4-log reductions of E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella Typhimurium and L. monocytogenes using the same concentrations and exposure times (Table 4[8, 9, 12–16]). HOCl is a promising candidate as a produce sanitizer at retail facilities, especially since these findings were obtained using concentrations lower than the allowable limit of 200 ppm.
Ozone (O3) is a powerful oxidant and has many industrial and consumer applications related to oxidation. This same high-oxidizing potential, however, can lead O3 to damage mucous and respiratory tissues in animals and tissues in plants above concentrations of about 100 ppb. The antimicrobial properties of O3 are empirically well defined through its use in water treatment for over a century. More recently, O3 obtained GRAS status for its use on raw and minimally processed fruits and vegetables, and, as a result, is commonly employed within the produce industry to sanitize wash and flume water within packinghouse operations. As seen in Table 2, levels of E. coli O157:H7 and L. monocytogenes on lettuce are typically reduced by about 1 log after treatment with O3 at industrially relevant concentrations and contact times. Interestingly, when produce is contaminated using spot-inoculation methods, larger reductions in these microbial pathogens are achieved (Table 3[8–11]).
Interestingly, pathogen reduction in all cases differed between the same chemical (e.g., HOCl), the same produce commodity (e.g., lettuce) and for the same pathogen (e.g., E. coli O157:H7) by more than 3-log units between studies using the two inoculation methods (see Table 3[8–11] vs. Table 4[8, 9, 12–16]). Overall, because of the regulatory restriction to use ClO2 on fresh and fresh-cut produce at concentrations above 3 ppm, the chemical HOCl would be the better sanitizer for produce when bacteria are uniformly distributed on produce leaves (mimicked by dip-inoculation, Table 3[8–11]). Likewise, HOCl may be the better sanitizer when single pathogens are spot-contaminated on leaves (Table 4[8, 9, 12–16]).
Criteria for a Produce Wash-and-Sanitation Device at Retail
Most retail sales and foodservice establishments prepare fresh produce after rinsing it with tap water as the only means to remove microbial pathogens. Although this process does remove pathogens and other microbes or soil from most produce commodities, it does not appear to prevent the majority of the foodborne disease outbreaks caused by contaminated produce. Also, when produce is rinsed or soaked by only tap water in sinks, the sinks can become sources of cross-contamination for other foods from viable pathogens rinsed off produce but not killed by the tap water.
According to FDA many produce commodities are potentially hazardous foods (raw seed sprouts, cut melons, cut leafy greens, cut tomatoes or mixtures of cut tomatoes that are not modified in a way so that they are unable to support pathogenic microorganism growth or toxin formation). We suggest that a wash-and-sanitize processing of potentially hazardous produce and produce that has the highest risk of causing outbreaks at retail sales and foodservice establishments would reduce the numbers of microbial pathogens on produce.
A more effective and valuable produce wash-and-sanitation device for retail sales and foodservice establishments could be designed that would function like a “cooking platform” as described in the FDA Food Code; the raw product would be placed into the device, a process would ensue for rinse, wash and sanitation steps based on time, and when the required time to achieve the kill step for each different pathogen/produce commodity combination has occurred, the device would indicate completion for removal of the finished product. Considering the criteria for the best produce wash-and-sanitation processes above, including a wash step using, for example, sodium dodecylbenzene sulfonate or other surfactants/detergents to wash microbial pathogens off produce and then the most effective active ingredient necessary for a sanitation step to kill remaining pathogens still on the produce and in the wash water (e.g., ozone or HOCl), such a device could be developed that would be operationally feasible.
The published potential efficacy for reduction of pathogens on produce by either O3 or HOCl is encouraging for use in a produce wash-and-sanitation system, and recently published research has demonstrated enhanced efficacy of these two chemicals by increasing the concentration and adding physical methods during the sanitation process. Afari et al. showed that the addition of agitation (soaking and mixing produce via forward and reverse rotation of a salad spinner at 65 rpm) to 155 ppm HOCl (pH 7.5) increased the efficacy of HOCl by 2- to 3-log reductions of E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella Typhimurium DT 104 on romaine lettuce, iceberg lettuce and tomatoes. Likewise, the addition of increasing ultrasound raised the efficacy of HOCl by similar log reductions. Ozone’s efficacy has more recently been shown to increase when used simultaneously with ultraviolet (UV) light. These physical additions to chemical treatment are innovative approaches, and continued work aimed at translating these laboratory studies to industry application is feasible.
It therefore seems probable that a change in each variable of a wash solution used (e.g., surfactant that removes pathogens off fresh-cut and fresh produce, degree of physical agitation/ultrasound and time) and sanitation solution used (e.g., concentration, controlling organics dissolved in solution, pH, physical method during treatment and time) could be standardized to accommodate the maximum reduction of microbial pathogens on all high-risk produce commodities. For example, a wash-and-sanitation system device could be developed (Figure 3) that controls each of these variables based on the type of produce to be treated. The operational steps could include:
• Remove outer leaves, if any; rinse produce with tap water spray to remove debris in rinse sink.
• Stage produce into a removable perforated produce colander/container.
• Insert produce colander/container into washer; fill with wash treatment solution; soak for defined time; drain.
• Fill and soak produce for defined time with agitation, ultrasonic vibrations and/or UV light in ice-cold treatment sanitizer solution (e.g., ozone, HOCl), controlling organic load and pH by draining solution and keeping chemical concentration stable. O3 or HOCl would be generated on demand at designated concentration and pH.
• Each produce commodity type (e.g., different leafy greens like chopped lettuce or romaine lettuce, tomatoes, berries or sprouts) would probably have a different wash time, concentration of sanitizer chemical, treatment time, and degree of agitation/ultrasonic vibration/UV light exposure to achieve a predetermined and validated log kill (e.g., to achieve a 5-log reduction standard).
• Drain produce, rinse with sanitizer solution to remove any final remaining microbial pathogens on produce and in the colander and spin produce dry while draining to remove excess treatment solution/organics.
• Remove produce container to dispense washed produce or label for date of expiration in covered containers and store at 41 °F until use (before its expiration time); washed and sanitized produce is a ready-to-eat food.
Such a device would not be difficult to design (similar to the design and function of a tabletop washing machine) and could ensure all high-risk produce goes through a wash-and-sanitation process that achieves a kill step for fresh and fresh-cut produce. Ultimately, any produce wash-and-sanitation device will need to be validated against a standard set of pathogens and produce commodities to ensure consistent efficacy like cooking temperatures known to kill pathogens (e.g., a 5-log reduction in these pathogens on all produce commodities). Likewise, viral and parasitic pathogens (e.g., norovirus, hepatitis A, Cryptosporidium and Cyclospora; Table 1) would need to be validated to a standard that would determine function of the wash, rinse and sanitation process. Any device or equipment will need to be NSF-certified to ensure it can be cleaned and sanitized properly (e.g., will not harbor biofilms of pathogens), and then verified regularly when in use to ensure uniformity of a kill step for all defined produce commodities. Finally, such a device should enable proper execution within the typical restaurant facility and include time and chemical concentration indicators (e.g., like thermometers used to confirm temperature).
A Challenge to Stakeholders in the Produce, Retail and Device Technology Industries
A produce wash-and-sanitation device could provide value to all the stakeholders who process, buy and sell products to enhance produce safety, sales and consumption in the United States. If the device could eliminate a large amount of microbial pathogens from produce (that may be introduced at multiple steps in the produce supply chain from the farm to retail; Figure 2), it is likely such a device, if broadly used at retail, would have an impact on the reduction of produce-associated foodborne disease outbreaks by eliminating these microbial pathogens closest to the final prep before consumption. A kill step via a closed-use device (Figure 3) provided at retail would also probably have the added benefit of enhancing quality of the produce, increasing the shelf life of some produce commodities at retail and reducing cross-contamination risk in retail sales and foodservice establishments (making fresh and fresh-cut produce more like a prep of a raw to ready-to-eat process).
Because of the probability of the hazards associated with fresh and fresh-cut produce due to the continual failure to prevent all contamination and pathogen growth events, the low infectious dose of the pathogens and the historically large number of produce-associated foodborne disease outbreaks, we challenge all the stakeholders to work together and design and develop a new system of preventive controls for produce to be implemented at retail sales and retail foodservice establishments, and prevent more produce-associated foodborne disease outbreaks, the last opportunity to remove the majority of the microbial hazards before human consumption.
Benefits to Keep in Mind Going Forward
Looking ahead, the food industry should emphasize the value proposition of a produce kill step at retail to stakeholders:
• Reduces microbial pathogens during retail prep that may have contaminated the produce anywhere along the supply chain
• Reduces cross-contamination risk of produce that can occur during washing and preparing produce in retail sales and foodservice operations
• Reduces produce-related foodborne disease outbreaks caused by contaminated produce from farm to retail
• Increases the quality and likely shelf-life of produce prepared in retail sales and foodservice operations
• Provides a kill step at retail that could reduce the risk of L. monocytogenes growth and also spoilage microbes growing on produce, even at cold temperatures during storage
• Possibly enhances the safety of locally sourced produce from small farms
• Provides a new value proposition for fresh and fresh-cut produce sales at retail to increase consumption by consumers
• Increases value to the consumer of extended shelf-life of produce after purchase at retail
Hal King, Ph.D., is president and CEO, Public Health Innovations LLC, and a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of Food Safety Magazine. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Eric Moorman is a graduate student at North Carolina State University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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10. Abadias, M et al. 2008. “Efficacy of Neutral Electrolyzed Water (NEW) for Reducing Microbial Contamination on Minimally-Processed Vegetables.” Int J Food Micro 123:151–158.
11. Yuk, H-G et al. 2006. “Effect of Combined Ozone and Organic Acid Treatment for Control of Escherichia coli and Listeria monocytogenes on Lettuce.” J Food Sci 71:83–87.
12. Kim, YJ et al. 2008. “Inactivation of E. coli O157:H7, S. Typhimurium and L. monocytogenes on Stored Iceberg Lettuce by Aqueous ClO2 Treatment.” J Food Sci 73:418–422.
13. Pangloli, P. et al. 2009. “Reduction of E. coli O157:H7 on Produce by Use of Electrolyzed Water under Simulated Foodservice Operation Conditions.” J Food Prot 72:1854–1861.
14. Afari, GK et al. 2015. “Efficacy of Neutral pH Electrolyzed Water in Reducing Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Salmonella Typhimurium DT 104 on Fresh Produce Items Using an Automated Washer at Simulated Foodservice Conditions.” J Food Sci 80(8):M1815–1822.
15. Rahman, SM et al. 2010. “Effectiveness of Low Concentration Electrolyzed Water to Inactivate Foodborne Pathogens under Different Environmental Conditions.” Int J Food Micro 139:147–153.
16. Pang, YH and YC Hung. 2016. “Efficacy of Slightly Acidic Electrolyzed Water and UV-Ozonated Water Combination for Inactivating E. coli O157:H7 on Romaine and Iceberg Lettuce During Spray Washing Process.” J Food Sci 81(7):M1743–1748.
19. Afari, GK et al. 2016. “Reduction of Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Salmonella Typhimurium DT 104 on Fresh Produce Using an Automated Washer with Near Neutral Electrolyzed (NEO) Water and Ultrasound.” Food Control 63:246–254.
USDA suggests ‘Best if Used By’ labeling on meat, other foods
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/12/usda-suggests-best-if-used-by-labeling-on-meat-other-foods/#.WFc2sfmLSUl
BY NEWS DESK (Dec 15, 2016)
New labeling guidance from the USDA that is designed to decrease waste by resolving consumer confusion about “best by” and “sell by” dates on food may also boost in-home food safety practices by providing more specific information.
Although infant formula is the only food product that must carry product dating under current federal law, many food companies include such information on packaging of other products. A lack of uniformity in the date coding on food, though, leaves many wondering how long food can safely be stored, according to a news release from USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS).
“Food manufacturers frequently use a variety of phrases, such as ‘Sell-by’ and ‘Use-by’ on product labels to describe quality dates on a voluntary basis. The use of different phrases to describe quality dates has caused consumer confusion and has led to the disposal of food that is otherwise wholesome and safe because it is past the date printed on the package,” according to the FSIS.
“FSIS is changing its guidance to recommend the use of ‘Best if Used By’ because research shows that this phrase is easily understood by consumers as an indicator of quality.”
The USDA estimates that 30 percent of food is lost or wasted at the retail and consumer level. The new guidance suggesting use of the “Best if Used By” language builds on other recent changes FSIS has made to facilitate food donation and reduce food waste.
Since 2009, USDA has launched new and ongoing initiatives to reduce food waste. In 2013, USDA the Environmental Protection Agency launched the U.S. Food Waste Challenge, creating a platform for leaders and organizations across the food chain to share best practices on ways to reduce, recover, and recycle food loss and waste.
In 2015, USDA and EPA set the first-ever national food waste reduction goal of 50 percent by 2030 to reduce the amount of wasted food in landfills.
“In an effort to reduce food loss and waste, these changes will give consumers clear and consistent information when it comes to date labeling on the food they buy,” Al Almanza, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety said in the news release. “This new guidance can help consumers save money and curb the amount of wholesome food going in the trash.”
The government is accepting comments on the revised labeling guidance from USDA for 60 days.
Comments on this revised guidance may be submitted through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov or by mail to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, FSIS, Docket Clerk, Patriots Plaza III, 355 E St. S.W., 8-163A, Mailstop 3782, Washington, DC 20250-3700. All comments submitted must include docket number FSIS-2016-0044.
Celebrity chefs practice poor food safety habits, study finds
Source : http://www.news-medical.net/news/20161215/Celebrity-chefs-practice-poor-food-safety-habits-study-finds.aspx
By news-medical.net (Dec 15, 2016)
Celebrity chefs are cooking up poor food safety habits, according to a Kansas State University study.
Kansas State University food safety experts Edgar Chambers IV and Curtis Maughan, along with Tennessee State University's Sandria Godwin, recently published "Food safety behaviors observed in celebrity chefs across a variety of programs" in the Journal of Public Health. The researchers viewed 100 cooking shows with 24 popular celebrity chefs and found several unclean food preparation behaviors.
"Twenty-three percent of chefs licked their fingers; that's terrible," said Chambers, professor and director of the Sensory Analysis Center at Kansas State University. "Twenty percent touched their hair or dirty clothing or things and then touched food again."
The chefs' most common food safety hazards included lack of hand-washing, not changing the cutting boards between raw meat and vegetables that wouldn't be cooked, and not using a meat thermometer to check meat doneness.
"Washing your hands is not a one-time thing," Chambers said. "We saw some chefs wash their hands in the beginning before preparing food, but they didn't wash their hands during food preparation when they should have."
Chambers said this is not modeling good behavior for viewers. Celebrity chefs' purpose is to entertain and educate about food preparation techniques and helpful kitchen hints, which should include proper food safety practices, he said.
"We hear about safety issues from unclean food or when something has gotten through the food system," Chambers said. "It can be detrimental to young children and the elderly, but many times when people think they have the 24-hour stomach flu, it's often from poor food preparation practices."
According to the study, about 1 in 6 Americans are exposed to foodborne illnesses each year, which can economically and socially affect consumers. Practices promoted by the Fight Bac! consumer food safety education campaign, which the researchers used to evaluate the chefs' food safety practices, can help improve public health. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the campaign encourages cooks to clean, separate, cook and chill to help prevent foodborne illness.
"All celebrity chefs have to do is mention these things as they go along: 'Remember to wash your hands,' 'Don't forget to change out your cutting board,' or 'I washed my hands here' — which some chefs did do," Chambers said. "They don't have to show it on television but they should remind viewers that there are safety issues involved in food preparation."
No chef received a perfect score but the researchers noticed some were more careful in the kitchen, which included more safe practices than others did. Chambers said that viewers may know proper food safety, but because people are creatures of habit, they may rely on practices that they are familiar with instead of adopting safe recommendations. Celebrity chefs can help make viewers more likely to use their food safety practices, he said.
"I think that celebrity chefs have a responsibility for entertaining us, but they also have a responsibility to give us good food," Chambers said. "We want celebrity chefs to teach us how to make food that not only tastes good but is good for us — and part of that is good food safety."
ConAgra Grocery Pleads Guilty to Shipping Contaminated Peanut Butter
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2016/conagra-grocery-pleads-guilty-to-shipping-contaminated-peanut-butter/
By Linda Larsen (Dec 14, 2016)
ConAgra Grocery Products LLC, a subsidiary of ConAgra Foods Incorporated, pled guilty yesterday to a criminal misdemeanor charge imposed over a massive Salmonella outbreak linked to its peanut butter in 2006. The Department of Justice announced the agreement on December 13, 2016. The company was ordered to pay an $8 million fine and a $3.2 million penalty, the largest fine ever paid in a food safety case.
A plea agreement was filed last year in federal district court in the Middle District of Georgia. Senior U.S. District Court Judge W. Louis Sands accepted the guilty plea and imposed the sentence and fines. The company admitted in the plea agreement that it introduced contaminated Peter Pan and one product code of WalMart’s Great Value peanut butter into interstate commerce.
None of that money will go to victims of this outbreak. Civil claims against the company were settled years ago.
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division, said in a statement, “This case demonstrates companies – both large and small – must be vigilant about food safety. We rely every day on food processors and handlers to meet the high standards required to keep our food free of harmful contamination.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FDA investigated the outbreak in 2007 and said it was linked to Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter that was produced and shipped from the company’s plant in Sylvester, Georgia. All of the peanut butter made at that plant since January 2004 was recalled after the outbreak announcement. ConAgra Grocery Products stopped production at the plant on February 14, 2007.
In the end, more than 700 people were identified as part of this outbreak. In addition, thousands of cases were unreported, according to CDC estimates. No deaths were reported in this outbreak.
The Justice Department alleged that on or about December 7, 2006, the company shipped peanut butter that had been adulterated with Salmonella from Georgia to Texas. There is zero tolerance for Salmonella contamination in ready to eat food products. ConAgra Grocery Products admitted that samples taken after the recall showed that peanut butter made at the Sylvester plant on nine dates between August 4, 2006, and January 29, 2007 were contamianted with Salmonella bacteria. Environmental test found the outbreak strain of Salmonella in at least nine locations throughout the plant.
And the company admitted that it had been aware of some risk of Salmonella contamination in its products. On two dates in October 2004, testing at the company’s plant found Salmonella in samples of finished peanut butter. The plea agreement states that employees who were analyzing finished product tests did not recognize the pathogenic bacteria in the products and “did not know how to properly interpret the results of the tests.”
Company employees uncovered several potential factors that may have contributed to the contamination. An old peanut roaster was not uniformly heating the raw peanuts. A storm-damaged sugar silo was not repaired. And a leaky roof that led moisture into the plant and airflow that could have allowed potential contaminants to move around the plant was identified. Company officials speculated that moisture that entered the production process could have enabled the growth of Salmonella in the raw peanuts or peanut dust.
ConAgra spent millions of dollars taking corrective action on the Sylvester plant, but did not completely correct these conditions until after the outbreak. The company also initiated new and enhanced safety protocols and procedures.
Stephen M. Ostroff, Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine at the FDA said in a statement, “Product safety has to be a high priority for every manufacturer of foods sold in the United States. FDA is working with food producers to promote compliance with food safety requirements, but if problems occur and are willfully ignored, we will use all available resources to protect American consumers from unsafe food.”
Beef recalled after feds see workers switch out inspection marks
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/12/beef-recalled-after-feds-see-workers-switch-out-inspection-marks/#.WFc31PmLSUl
BY NEWS DESK (Dec 13, 2016)
King Meat Services Inc. of Vernon, CA, is recalling more than 25 tons of beef after federal inspectors discovered its employees were removing inspection marks of original beef suppliers and replacing them with King Meat inspection marks.
A notice, posted Monday evening by the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, is a Class III recall, meaning it “is a situation where the use of the product will not cause adverse health consequences.”
King Meat Services packed the recalled beef from Nov. 1 through Dec. 5 and shipped it to distributors, foodservice operators and retailers in California, according to the recall notice. Names of retailers and foodservice operations that received the beef were not provided in the notice.
“The products subject to recall bear establishment number ‘Est. 426’ inside the USDA mark of inspection,” according to the recall notice.
“The problem was discovered on Dec. 5, 2016, when FSIS inspection personnel observed establishment employees removing the marks of inspection of the original beef suppliers and replacing them with the King Meat Services Inc. mark of inspection.”
The following products are subject to recall:
Boxes of vacuum-packed packages containing “BEEF BONE – IN SHORT RIB CHOICE OR HIGHER,” with product code 991012.
Boxes of vacuum-packed packages containing “BEEF BONELESS RIBEYE LIP – ON 13 LBS DOWN,” with product code 991027.
Boxes of vacuum-packed packages containing “BEEF BONELESS RIBEYE LIP – ON 13 LBS UP,” with product code 991028.
Boxes of vacuum-packed packages containing “BEEF BONELESS RIBEYE LIP – ON 16 LBS UP,” with product code 991031.
Boxes of vacuum-packed packages containing “BEEF BONELESS CHUCK SHORT RIB CHOICE OR HIGHER,” with product code 991164.
Boxes of vacuum-packed packages containing “BEEF BONELESS PASTRAMI PLATE,” with product code 991166.
Boxes of vacuum-packed packages containing “BEEF BONELESS CHUCK SHORT RIB SELECT OR HIGHER,” with product code 991170.
Boxes of vacuum-packed packages containing “BEEF BONELESS CHUCK SHORT RIB,” with product code 991171.
Boxes of vacuum-packed packages containing “BEEF BONE – IN SHORT RIB SELECT OR HIGHER,” with product code 991176.
Boxes of vacuum-packed packages containing “BEEF ANGUS BONELESS BRISKET,” with product code 991181.
Boxes of vacuum-packed packages containing “BEEF BONE – IN SHORT RIB NO ROLL,” with product code 991182.
Boxes of vacuum-packed packages containing “BEEF BONELESS SHORT RIB NO ROLL,” with product code 991183.
Boxes of vacuum-packed packages containing “BEEF BONELESS CHUCK SHORT RIB NO ROLL,” with product code 991184.
Boxes of vacuum-packed packages containing “BEEF BONELESS LIP – ON RIBEYE HEAVY,” with product code 991187.
Consumers with questions about the recall can contact Yu Sun, general manager of King Meat Services Inc., at 323-835-8989.
6 tips for food safety at holidays parties and dinners
Source : http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/6_tips_for_food_safety_at_holidays_parties_and_dinners
By Beth Waitrovich Michigan State University Extension (Dec 12, 2016)
Planning a holiday party or dinner? Having family and friends over for appetizers or a meal is a great way to spend less on meals out in restaurants. Keep the festivities safe and stress free by following six simple food safety tips.
Guests like to help out by providing appetizers, main dishes and desserts to share with everyone. Take advantage of offers to help out with the food. If guests are coming from a distance, choose non-perishable foods/beverages for them to provide such as pop, cookies, bagged snacks, etc.
Plan for ways to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Coolers will keep cold foods cold until serving time. If food will left out on a buffet table for longer than 2 hours, have ice filled bowls and trays to keep dips, salads, cut fruits and vegetables cold. Slow cookers can be used to keep hot food hot. (Do not reheat foods in a slow cooker – heat in the oven or in the microwave to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. before putting into the slow cooker).
Provide plenty of soap and disposable towels for hand washing. Using a cloth common towel can lead to sharing bacteria and viruses, especially colds and flu. No one wants to get sick for the holidays!
Prepare some dishes ahead of time, refrigerate or freeze, and reheat (to 165 F) before serving.
Michigan State University Extension recommends using a food thermometer to determine when cooked foods are done. Food thermometer also make a great gift!
When shopping for groceries, select non-perishable foods or non-foods purchases first. Shop for refrigerated foods such as dairy products and meat, eggs, poultry and eggs and frozen foods last to keep these foods at the correct temperature.
Holiday parties and dinners are a wonderful way to spend the holidays. Plan now for your holiday events to be fun and food safe too!
This article was published by Michigan State University Extension. For more information, visit http://www.msue.msu.edu. To have a digest of information delivered straight to your email inbox, visit http://www.msue.msu.edu/newsletters. To contact an expert in your area, visit http://expert.msue.msu.edu, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).
Could whole chain traceability be the answer to food safety and transparency?
Source : http://www.fooddive.com/news/whole-chain-traceability-food-safety-transparency/431913/
By Carolyn Heneghan (Dec. 12, 2016)
When Blue Bell discovered its second listeria contamination in two years in the cookie dough varieties of its ice cream products, the company's traceability plan sprung into action. Because the company had recently overhauled its facilities and passed state health inspections, Blue Bell looked for the particular ingredient that may have been contaminated before arriving at its facility, known as looking “one-back.”
Blue Bell identified its cookie dough supplier, Aspen Hills, as the source of the contamination. Though the company at first disputed these claims — citing negative results from its own testing — Aspen Hills eventually initiated its own recall. The company contacted its manufacturing customers to ensure they recalled any of their own products that might contain the contaminated ingredient, known as looking “one-up.”
This is an example of the “one-up-one-back” approach. It's commonly used in the food industry, but may not always account for anomalies that occur farther back or forward in the supply chain.
“There's not really a robust, industrywide enhanced traceability for manufacturers to look all the way back and all the way forward,” Katy Jones, VP of marketing at FoodLogiQ, told Food Dive. “So you do see a lot of those types of recalls where a food company needs to know where they sourced their food from.”
Food safety experts say that whole chain traceability may be the key to faster, more concentrated and less costly recalls, improved food safety and increased transparency in the food and beverage industry. But due to a variety of challenges, others wonder if whole chain traceability is feasible.
The problem with the “one-up-one-back” approach
Much of the food and beverage industry currently follows this standardized “one-up-one-back” approach when it comes to supply chain traceability, Jones said. Manufacturers usually know their direct suppliers (one-back) and direct customers (one-up), but supply chain visibility tends to stop there.
A handful of major recalls in the past decade have brought the need for increased traceability into the spotlight. Cargill experienced the fallout of the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) salmonella outbreak in 2008 and 2009. But the company didn’t realize the problem right away because the ultimate source of the contamination wasn’t on its supply chain radar, Mike Robach, VP of corporate food safety, quality and regulatory at Cargill, said during a press lunch at a GFSI forum.
“We focus per the regulations one-up-one-back, but I would say even with some of our contract manufacturers we go two back — we go to their suppliers,” said Robach. “[During the PCA recall], we had a supplier of a supplier to the contract manufacturer who was making a blended material with some of the contaminated peanut butter. But we found out six months after everyone else did because it was so far back in the supply chain.”
“The ongoing challenge we have is that visibility,” Robach continued. “The further back you go becomes more and more difficult. (PCA) was a great example for us. We thought we were in the clear because the co-manufacturer said, ‘Well, none of our suppliers are implicated,’ but it was the supplier to the supplier.”
From this year’s General Mills flour recall to the mysterious sugar recall from an unknown supplier, this scenario is all too common across the industry.
Is whole chain traceability possible?
Because the standard one-up-one-back method for traceability leads to complications down the line for manufacturers, some food safety experts tout the benefits of whole chain traceability, where a manufacturer can find sourcing and food safety practices from end to end of its supply chain, from farm to fork.
But with the complex nature of today’s global supply chains, is this a feasible goal for manufacturers? While challenges lay ahead, many in the industry, including GFSI, believe it is a task worth undertaking.
In the meantime, Robach described the journey toward whole chain traceability as evolving in the midst of a “continuous improvement process.” Several challenges could get in the way of a manufacturer trying to achieve it.
Some products and commodities may have an easier time implementing whole chain traceability than others due to the nature of standard harvesting, processing, storage and delivery practices, Robach said.
“If I have an integrated supply chain, I could trace it back,” said Robach. “I can trace turkeys, or I can trace animals or eggs back to the farm, and I've got all the information with the feed, and everything you'd ever want to know about that animal.”
“But if you're talking about flour or soybean oil, canola oil or margarine, it gets increasingly difficult,” Robach continued. “That’s especially if you think about the harvesting of grains and things like wheat or soy — there's a lot of co-mingling that goes on from hundreds of farms that come into an elevator, and then they get distributed out to the processing plants. (Tracing that ingredient) back to an exact field is next to impossible.”
Willingness and ability to share data
Mondelez International’s senior director of global quality Peter Begg brought up another key issue for manufacturers and retailers attempting to establish whole chain traceability. The challenge is not always whether companies are capable of sharing information about their ingredient sourcing or safety practices. It’s whether they choose — or are permitted — to do so by local laws.
For an international company like Mondelez that sources ingredients from dozens of countries, this can be acutely complex.
“There's a lot of data privacy laws in Europe which makes sharing of information a lot more challenging than in other countries,” Begg said during the GFSI press lunch. “… That willingness to be more transparent on the data is going to be a challenge.”
“Systems can get there,” Begg continued. “If you look at the last 30 years and how rapidly systems have accelerated and given us visibility to the supply chain, I think that will only continue to evolve. In 30 years, I can see us having the ability to have whole chain visibility. The question is, are people going to be willing to share the information? I don't know.”
Embracing more advanced technology
Another challenge for many manufacturers will be to let go of old ways of organizing and reporting operational and safety data. Many will have to do this in order to comply with new FSMA regulations, but manufacturers must also rely on their suppliers and customers — and those companies' suppliers and customers — to do the same for true supply chain visibility.
“At the heart of it, it’s just knowing, onboarding and approving your suppliers, which for some food companies is still a struggle,” said Jones. “If they're managing their suppliers in spreadsheets, personal relationships, phone calls, things like that, then that communication or that approval or disapproval is not communicated to purchasing. Then you're buying product from a supplier that's not approved, or a supplier that you've had quality issues with in the past, and that's where you see food safety break down.”
Why traceability is critical beyond recalls
Much of the urgency for traceability centers around food safety and the ability to speed up the recall process, but the benefits of whole chain traceability for manufacturers spans well beyond recalls. Consumer demands and pressure from the marketplace — including a manufacturer’s own suppliers and customers, or federal and state regulators — will be a major driver for increased supply chain visibility.
“The companies that are going to proactively address (traceability) are going to be the ones that are going to win in the marketplace,” said Jones. “Traceability can be not just about business practices, but it also can enable the company to use the information they're gathering to pass on to the consumer.”
Traceability also has significant implications for labeling — or mislabeling — for various health and ingredient claims, such as non-GMO or organic.
“If you don't know for certain that your suppliers are providing you with food that aligns to that grand claim, you're in an extremely risky environment,” Jones said. More companies, media organizations and consumers are uncovering issues around mislabeling and around companies selling food that isn't what they say it is.”
DNA testing, such as from food analytics company Clear Labs, more definitively identifies the species of plants, animals, bacteria and other contaminants that a food or beverage product might contain. If test results don’t match the ingredients or claims on a product label, it can lead to costly litigation.
But litigation doesn’t always stem from purposeful tainting of the food supply. Often, better traceability systems could have remedied the issue before it became fodder for a lawsuit.
“I don't get the sense that across the industry it's a malicious thing,” said Jones. “It’s an issue around not certifying and not getting that information from your supplier to have that visibility. That's what causes this disconnect and these issues of mislabeling.”
Improving supply chain visibility and traceability also makes good business sense and can end up saving companies by improving the ways manufacturers and retailers monitor the quality of their suppliers, said Jones.
“To know that those suppliers have the same commitment to quality and safety as your brand is critical,” said Jones. “If you can monitor over time, ‘We've had five quality incidents from X tomato company, and none from this, I'm going to do more business with the supplier that we haven't had any quality issues with.’ That protects your brand. Over time, hopefully that makes for a safer supply chain as you're able to communicate issues back to your supplier.”
Organizations like GFSI and software providers can help manufacturers improve communication and data sharing across their supply chains and ultimately achieve better visibility. But before long, traceability won’t just be a “nice-to-have” or even an advantage, because the principles of traceability are at the core of many of the FSMA regulations manufacturers are having to implement now and into the next few years.
“When you look at it from a FSMA perspective, (whole chain traceability) can give you a significant amount of information and power to really have transparency and visibility across your supply chain,” said Jones. “…To be able to have real visibility across your entire supply chain, to know at a minimum who you're doing business with and their quality and that they're an approved supplier, that's a piece of FSMA.”
6 tips to freeze food like a pro
Source : http://www.treehugger.com/green-food/tips-freeze-food.html
By Melissa (Dec 12, 2016)
When used properly, the freezer can be one of your best allies in saving food and preventing waste.
Our food yearns so hard to please, but over and over again its final destination is an ignoble plop in the trashcan. In fact, 40 percent of food in the United States goes uneaten; we can do better! And doing so really isn't rocket science. Most of us have a big box in our kitchen that is willing and ready to help, we just need to employ it.
While freezing food may lack the hipster homesteading appeal of canning – and yes, may have undertones of 60s suburban housewife – it's time to resist the stereotypes and embrace the freezer. As the NRDC site savethefood.com puts it, the freezer is a tool that allows you to push the pause button on food in your kitchen. And it's so true. I love my freezer for accommodating my over-eager greenmarket shopping trips and giving leftovers a safe haven; it's also invaluable for storing big batches of soup, beans, etcetera for quick and healthy meals when time is limited.
That said, while almost any food can be frozen, many people don't know how to get the absolute most from their icebox. So with that in mind, consdier these smart tips from savethefood:
1. Freeze in portions
Think about real-life meal planning when you freeze. For instance, you probably won’t need a whole loaf of bread at once, so slice it up before you pop it in the freezer. Then you can toast it right from the freezer a slice or two at a time. Use a muffin tin to freeze stews and chili in portions that are perfect for lunch. Freeze berries on a cookie sheet separately for about half an hour and then transfer to a bag, so they won’t all stick together in a clump. Scramble two raw eggs (yes, eggs can be frozen!) so that you can cook breakfast for one. You get the idea.
2. Keep it airtight
Less air = less freezer burn (what happens when foods oxidize in the freezer). Remove meat from supermarket trays and wrap well with plastic wrap or freezer paper before storing in zip-top bags. Squeeze excess air from plastic bags and containers, and avoid opening the freezer door unnecessarily. Freezer burn is harmless but affects taste. Oh, and those water crystals that can form on frozen foods? Perfectly normal.
3. Leave room for liquids
You may have learned in science class that matter contracts when subjected to lower temperatures, but that’s not always true in the kitchen. Most liquids expand in the freezer, so leave about half an inch at the top of containers to account for this.
You can put most foods straight into the freezer with minimal preparation, especially if you plan to eat them within a couple of days. Most fruits and vegetables, however, benefit from the simple process of blanching, which preserves their quality, color, and vitamin content—particularly if they might be in the freezer for a long time. It takes a few minutes at the most: you clean your produce, pop it in a pot of boiling water, then cool in ice water.
5. Label and organize
Label containers with contents and date, and use clear containers when possible so you can easily see what’s inside. Lay bags of leftover mashed potatoes and tomato puree flat in the freezer so they’re easy to stack. You can use large containers to partition your freezer by food type, with areas for fruits, vegetables, and prepared foods. As your commitment to freezing grows, you can use a white board on the freezer door to keep a log of what’s inside. It helps with meal planning and minimizes time spent digging around for last week’s corn.
6. Defrost safely
You’ve taken care to freeze your foods to their best advantage, now give some time and attention to proper thawing. The safest ways to defrost frozen foods are by placing them in the fridge (overnight will usually do it), in the microwave (settings vary according to model), or in a bowl of cold water. Food safety experts do not recommend thawing on the kitchen counter or in warm water. And, yes, you can refreeze your food, as long as you’ve followed one of the procedures to defrost it safely in the first place.
For more tips on preventing food waste, visit savethefood.com.
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