FDA Confirms Belladonna in Homeopathic Teething Products
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2017/fda-confirms-belladonna-in-homeopathic-teething-products/
By News Desk (Jan 30, 2017)
Last year we told you about a consumer warning issued by the FDA regarding homeopathic teething products that had inconsistent levels of belladonna, which is considered a toxic substance. On Friday, the FDA released a report stating that elevated levels of belladonna have been found in those products; sometimes “far exceeding the amount claimed on the label.”
The government investigated more than 400 reports of adverse effects linked to those products, which ranged from “seizure, death, fever, shortness of breath, lethargy, constipation, vomiting, sleepiness, to tremor, agitation, and irritability.” FDA has contacted Standard Homeopathic Company in Los Angeles, the maker of Hyland’s homeopathic teething products made with belladonna.
The company has not agreed to a recall. So the FDA recommends that consumers stop using these products marketed by Hyland’s immediately and throw any they have away.
Belladonna is also known as deadly nightshade. It is widely regarded as unsafe and has been used in the past as a sedative. The plant contains chemicals that block the functions of the body’s nervous system.
Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research said in a statement, “the body’s response to belladonna in children under two years of age is unpredictable and puts them at unnecessary risk. We recommend that parents and caregivers not give these homeopathic teething tablets to children and seek advice from their health care professional for safe alternatives.”
Homeopathic teething products have not been evaluated or approved by the FDA for safety or efficacy. And there is no proven health benefit of the products, which are labeled to relieve teething symptoms in children.
If you do choose to use these products, be watchful for any adverse reactions, including seizures, difficulty breathing, lethargy, excessive sleepiness, muscle weakness, skin flushing, constipation, difficulty urinating, or agitation. Take your child to a doctor immediately if any of these symptoms occur.
Food Safety Is in Danger Under the Trump Administration’s Federal Hiring Freeze
Source : https://munchies.vice.com/en/articles/food-safety-is-in-danger-under-the-trump-administrations-federal-hiring-freeze
BY ALEX SWERDLOFF (Jan 29, 2017)
Earlier this week, President Trump signed an executive order that put into effect an across-the-board employment freeze for federal employees, excluding those in the military, national security, and public safety. The move has received a fair amount of public blowback, with many veterans speaking out against the order and arguing it will not only dramatically slow the responsiveness of Veterans Affairs, but take away federal jobs from veterans returning from service.
Now, it appears as if the federal hiring freeze is also impacting the USDA’s ability to inspect and ensure the safety of the food Americans consume. Earlier today, Food Safety News published the contents of an internal message that was sent to employees of the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service. The email, which was sent out on January 18, warned employees to expect delays in all lab testing until at least March 3.
“Effective Jan. 18, 2017, due to a temporary decrease in staffing, results on pathology samples submitted to the FSIS laboratory system will be delayed,” explained the internal email. “AMR-01 and rush cases will be given priority status; however turnaround times are expected to be delayed by at least 24 hours on these samples. This is expected to be rectified by March 3, 2017, but is dependent on staffing key vacancies. The Pathology Branch apologizes for the inconvenience these delays will cause.”
While the sudden freeze on testing might not sound like that big of a deal to the average American, consider the fact that the FSIS is responsible for ensuring the safety of all meat, poultry, catfish, and processed egg products sold in the US.
Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, a Democrat from the state of Connecticut, told Food Safety News that she was greatly concerned by the move and its ramifications. “Less than a week into the Trump Administration, we are already seeing the devastating effects of President Trump’s federal hiring freeze. News that the USDA does not have enough staff to properly test the nation’s food supply is extremely disconcerting and it is only of matter of time until a consumer ends up sick—or worse, dead,”
MUNCHIES reached out to the USDA for comment on the matter, but has not yet received a response.
“President Trump should take a good hard look at the implications of his decisions and stop jeopardizing the health and well being of the American people with his overreaching executive actions,” DeLauro added.
The Obama administration had made food safety a priority, particularly during Obama’s second term. It appears that President Trump is stepping away from that legacy, as statements he made during his campaign suggested he might.
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Food safety educator’s take on sprouts — cook them to kill risk
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2017/01/food-safety-educators-take-on-sprouts-cook-them-to-kill-risk/#.WJA8GfmLSUl
BY JANE C. HART( Jan 28, 2017)
Editor’s note: The Food and Drug Administration published draft guidance for sprout growers in recent days and is accepting public comments. In the meantime, Jane Hart of the Michigan State Universty Extension program offers practical advice for consumers in this column originally published on the Extension website.
Have you noticed ever so often, you hear about foodborne illness in association with sprouts? I often see articles in the news about people getting sick after eating sprouts in salads or on sandwiches. Then, I remember why sprouts are not available on many salad bars.
Any produce that is eaten raw or only lightly cooked carries with it a risk of foodborne illness. Sprouts especially seem to be vulnerable because they need warmth and humidity to sprout, which is exactly what bacteria like salmonella and E. coli need to grow. With enough time in the temperature “danger zone” — 40 degrees to 140 degrees Fahrenheit — that the seeds need to sprout, they can become a petri dish of bacteria.
There have been several instances of sprouts causing outbreaks of food poisoning throughout the United States between 1996 and 2016, the last one being August 2016. It doesn’t discriminate between differing seed sprouts either — all types have been compromised.
There are many types of bean and seed sprouts, including alfalfa, mung beans, clover and others. The companies selling sprouts cannot guarantee that all harmful bacteria will be eliminated, even on seeds that have been safely treated for bacteria. Canned sprouts, like those in Asian dishes, are safe as they have been heated during processing.
To reduce the risk of illness from sprouts
Cook sprouts thoroughly. Cooking kills the bacteria so you can enjoy them in cooked dishes.
People with weakened immune systems — the elderly, children and those with compromised immune systems — should avoid eating all types of raw sprouts.
If you are at a restaurant, ask that raw sprouts not be added to your salad or sandwich. If they are added, return it.
There are articles in magazines and online explaining how to sprout seeds and beans at home. Be aware that the seeds you purchase to do this may be compromised with bacteria, and will bring about an unsafe product no matter how careful you are.
I used to sprout seeds for salads and ceased after the illness outbreaks. It’s not worth it for me to spend time and money on a problematic food source. Now I purchase them in cans and only use them in cooked dishes.
The more we know about food safety, the healthier we can be.
WHO Urges Vigilance in Bird Flu Outbreaks
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2017/who-urges-vigilance-in-bird-flu-outbreaks/
By Linda Larsen (Jan 27, 2017)
There have been many outbreaks of avian flu among bird flocks around the world in the last two months. The highly pathogenic H5N8 virus is spreading across Europe and other countries. The World Health Organization is telling countries they must be on the watch for possible human avian flu cases.
No human H5N8 cases have been reported so far. But Dr. Caroline Brown, program manager for flu and other respiratory pathogens for the WHO’s Regional Office for Europe said that “this does not mean this cannot happen, as experience tells us.” The H5N8 threat to humans is “relatively low,” but other subtypes have made the jump from birds to humans.
At least 24 European countries have reported H5N8 outbreaks since June 2016. More outbreaks have been reported in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. And other types of avian flu viruses are circulating too, including highly pathogenic H5N5 and low-pathogenic H5N3.
Two more H5N8 outbreaks were reported in Germany on January 25, 2017. Italy reported another outbreak on January 26, 2017. More than 37,000 birds were culled as a control measure in that country. In Poland, another outbreak was reported in backyard birds and nine more detections in wild birds. And in the UK, an outbreak at a turkey farm in Lincolnshire killed a number of birds in a 19,500 bird flock.
In 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 large bird flu outbreaks in the United States forced the culling of hundreds of thousands of birds. The CDC issued a human health advisory over the avian flu in 2015. Human infections have occurred in the past after unprotected direct physical contact with infected birds, being in close proximity to infected birds, or visiting a live poultry market.
Human infection has not occurred from eating properly cooked poultry products, heated to 165°F. And people are advised to avoid unprotected exposure to sick or dead birds, bird feces, or litter. Protective clothing should be used by people working around birds.
Canada to increase food safety standards
Source : http://www.freshplaza.com/article/170030/Canada-to-increase-food-safety-standards
By freshplaza.com (Jan 27, 2016)
Today, the Government of Canada launched a public consultation on new rules to strengthen food safety. The proposed Safe Food for Canadians Regulations would better protect Canadian families by putting a greater emphasis on preventing food safety risks for all foods imported into Canada or sold across provinces. The regulations would also apply to foods prepared for export.
The proposed regulations would require food businesses to have preventive controls in place to identify and manage food safety risks before products are sold to consumers. This would also reduce the time it takes to remove unsafe foods from the marketplace. This public comment period is an opportunity for all Canadians to comment on the proposed regulations.
These proposed regulations represent a major milestone in bringing the Safe Food for Canadians Act into force, which was passed in Parliament in 2012 with support from all political parties.
Publication date: 1/27/2017
Shrimp Lovers: High Antibiotic Levels and Origin Cause for Concern
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2017/shrimp-lovers-high-antibiotic-levels-and-origin-cause-for-concern/
By News Desk (Jan 25, 2017)
Do you know where that shrimp in your freezer or on the plate in your favorite restaurant came from? And do you know what’s in it? Research in the last few years has found that antibiotic use in shrimp farming, especially in Asia, could pose a serious threat to public health.
A study in 2003 published in the International Journal of Food Science and Technology, titled “Antibiotic use in shrimp farming and implications for environmental impacts and human health” brought up the subject. It stated that antibiotics are used in shrimp farming to prevent or treat disease outbreaks, just as they are used on factory farms, but usage patterns were unknown.
That study was conducted along the coast of Thailand, which was the world’s largest producer of cultured shrimp until China took that title a few years ago (more about that later). At the time of the study, 20,000 shrimp farms were located along that country’s coastline. Scientists interviewed seventy-six farmers, and found that 74% of them used antibiotics, most prophylactically (to prevent disease) and on a daily basis. At least thirteen different antibiotics were used. And 86% of the farmers experienced problems with bacterial and viral diseases in their facilities.
This type of antibiotic use is well documented as one of the causes of antibiotic resistance in pathogenic bacteria. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report in December 2016 through their National Antibiotic Monitoring Resistance System (NARMS) that stated that when animal are given low levels of antibiotics over a period of time, bacteria that naturally live in these animals develop resistance to the drugs.
About 700,000 people die every year from antibiotic-resistant infections. That number could increase to 10,000,000 a year by 2050 as we run out of antibiotics that can kill bacteria without killing us.
The FDA is well aware of this problem. They released Import Alert 16-131 on October 3, 2016 ordering detention without physical examination of aquacultured shrimp, dace, and eel from China, another country that farms shrimp and experts it to the U.S. In fact, 2016 was a record year for FDA refusals of shrimp that were deemed contaminated with banned antibiotics.
That alert states, “aquaculture seafood has been the fastest growing sector of the world food economy, accounting for approximately half of all seafood production worldwide. About 80% of the seafood consumed in the U.S. imported from approximately 62 countries.”
China is the largest producer of aquacultured seafood in the world. They produce 70% of the of the total production and 55% of the total value of aquacultured seafood exported around the world. And they use unapproved antibiotics and chemicals that pose a public health threat.
For instance, there is evidence that shrimp farmers in China use nitrofurans, malachite green, and gentian violet, which are carcinogenic. They also use fluoroquinolones, which are broad-spectrum antibiotics. Those chemicals are used to treat disease in, or affect the structure or function of seafood. The FDA has not approved those compounds in aquacultured animals.
In 2015, there were 404 refusals of shrimp entry lines for veterinary drug residues. After the Import Alert was issued in early 2016, there were 133 refusals of shrimp entry lines for drug residues. Most of the refused shrimp came from China, Vietnam, Malaysia, and India.
China is a particular problem in the fight against antibiotic resistance. Pigs were routinely given antibiotics of last resort, particularly colistin, in that country until the government changed their policy in November 2016. And most of the antibiotics fed to pigs pass undegraded into their waste.
A year earlier, scientists found a colistin-resistant gene in China that can be transmitted to other bacteria and turn them into “superbugs.” This affects shrimp farming, since waste from pig farms flows into coastline waters, where the shrimp farms are located.
Now there’s another problem, according to Bloomberg News: the distribution networks for seafood around the world are not transparent. That means we don’t know where the seafood that turns up in supermarkets and restaurants comes from. Companies create “disposable import companies” that close when regulators are aware of them.
Oceana, an organization that is dedicated to protecting the world’s oceans, published a report in October 2014 stating that, using DNA testing, they found that 30% of the 143 shrimp products tested from 111 grocery stores and restaurants around the country were misrepresented. That term means that farmed species were mislabeled as “Gulf shrimp,” that different species of shrimp were included in the same package, and that cheaper species were substituted for more expensive shrimp.
So what can you do about this? Consumer Reports has a guide to choosing the most responsibly sourced, healthiest shrimp that they published in 2015. They have a list of labels on any shrimp you buy that you should look for. They include the Marine Stewardship Council, Naturland, Aquaculture Stewardship Council, and Whole Foods Market Responsibly Farmed. Labels that mean nothing include “Environmental aware,” “Natural,” “No antibiotics,” “No hormones,” “Sustainable,” “Turtle Safe,” and “Organic.”
Top Food Safety and Regulatory Concerns for 2017
Source : http://www.foodprocessing.com/articles/2017/top-food-safety-and-regulatory-concerns/
By David Acheson of The Acheson Group (Jan 24, 2017)
The new administration, round two of FSMA, even social media will impact the food and beverage industry in 2017.
In follow-up to last month's Food Safety column, The Acheson Group takes a look at the new year and what we expect for the industry in 2017. Like 2016, we expect there to be a heavy focus on FSMA roll-out and compliance, but we also anticipate some impacts of the new presidential administration.
Our top 10 concerns for 2017
Trump's New Administration: What will the new administration do with the FDA budget and how will that impact its FSMA enforcement resources? It will also be interesting to see if any change is made in the overall direction and function required of FDA – particularly as there is now a food industry representative in the upper echelons, with the appointment of Hardee's/Carl's Jr. CEO Andrew Puzder as Labor Secretary. We don’t expect any dramatic and sudden changes with either FDA or FSIS, but over time there may be a change in enforcement strategy.
FDA Inspections: We can expect to see FDA inspectors facing a continued learning curve as they begin inspections of FDA regulated facilities against the new FSMA regulations. That said, we would expect the number of large facilities inspected to increase over the course of the year. So, while all food facilities should be prepared for an unannounced FDA visit, large companies should be particularly prepared with their food safety plans in place and know that FDA could stop by at any time. So be ready to answer that question from FDA: “Show me your food safety plan.”
Focus on Environmental Controls and Increased Recalls: With FDA inspectors inspecting facilities to FSMA rules and conducting environmental sampling/swabbing and use of PulseNet, they are likely to discover issues that will bring food safety into question. This could be due to any number of reasons, such as incomplete records, questionable environmental monitoring programs, failure to administer proper preventive controls, inadequate training, failure to follow GMPs, etc. As these issues are uncovered, FDA may request specific time frames for manufactured food to be recalled out of an abundance of caution. With the pressure of FSMA and compliance, it is also likely that voluntary recalls will increase, with companies pushing hard to be better educated on risks within their facilities and more. Facilities that are diligent and proactive will be able to detect and correct issues – before a third-party auditor or surprise FDA inspection finds (and cites) them. A key message for 2017 is to make sure you have done the best you can with your environmental control program, especially if you make ready-to-eat foods.
Second Round of Compliance: With the next round of extended compliance dates now coming due, small companies and pet food manufacturers will have to be FSMA-compliant in 2017. These two sectors will be ramping up their food safety plans just as the large companies did in 2016, so we can expect to see a mirror effect as they implement their food safety plans.
Dedicated PCQI Positions: As companies develop and implement their food safety plans, they are becoming very aware of the numerous duties and responsibilities of the Preventive Controls Qualified Individual. With these added responsibilities potentially requiring full-time or contract personnel, depending on the size of the food company and/or complexity of the manufacture of the food product, companies will need to be taking this into consideration and potentially making additional hires or reassessing existing roles.
More Pressure on Suppliers: Food manufacturers and processors depend on suppliers to provide safe ingredients both to ensure the end safety of their products and to fulfill FSMA rules. Thus, suppliers will be scrutinized for complete, thorough and accurate information, followed by increased verification by the food companies. Third-party verification will increase, and the qualifications of the third party will be further scrutinized.
A Continued Request for Clarification: As more food industries become compliant with FSMA, the number of questions submitted to the FSMA Technical Assistance Network (TAN) will continue. Industry trade groups will continue to solicit information and clarification from FDA on specific interpretations of FSMA and how it applies to their niche, and will look for continued guidance updates.
GMO Foods: Beyond FSMA, we can expect to see a continued focus on the regulation/labeling of GMO foods. Although USDA has two years to develop the program, consumers are unlikely to let the matter drop completely, particularly as the drive for natural and "free-from" foods grows and consumers make their voices are heard.
Social Media: We fully expect social media will continue to play a role in numerous ways – and likely in an area that hasn't yet been addressed, though we'd need a crystal ball to be able to say just what that might be. But as more and more people become actively engage in social media, the spread of information -- and misinformation -- will only increase in volume and speed, so food companies will need to be prepared to react properly and efficiently and continue to develop ways to figure out what social media is saying about your brand before it becomes a crisis.
Changing World Views: As 2016 came to an end and the Trump Administration began putting forward its plans, a push and pull of globalization vs. economic nationalism began to show its face. And this is just one of the ways in which the world seems to be unsettled in ways that we've not seen before. It is much bigger than food, but is highly likely to impact the food industry in some way – or many.
Overall we expect 2017 to be as action packed as 2016, With FSMA, recalls, changing administrative priorities and social media, we should anticipate that the world of the food safety professional will become ever more complex. C suites are already getting engaged in food safety, and this trend will continue into 2017 as even more food companies come to realize that food safety is likely their biggest risk enterprise-wide.
ND Bill Would Permit Raw Milk Sales; Prohibit Warning Labels
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2017/nd-bill-would-permit-raw-milk-sales-prohibit-warning-labels/
By News Desk (Jan 24, 2017)
A new bill introduced to the North Dakota Legislative Assembly’s Joint Agriculture Committee would not only permit the sale of raw milk in that state, but would prohibit any warning labels on the product and shift the risk burden to consumers. House Bill No. 1433 is supported by Representatives Luke Simmons, Rick C. Becker, Daniel Johnston, Dwight Kiefert, Jeffery Magrum, Kim Koppelman,, Christopher Olson, Nathan Toman, and Mike Schatz. Senators Oley Larsen and Jordan Kannianen also support it.
The milk must be sold directly from the producer to the consumer and be only for home consumption. The milk can be sold at a farm, ranch, farmers market, farm stand, or home-based kitchen. The producer must tell the consumer that the milk is not “certified, labeled, licensed, packaged, regulated, or inspected.”
It also states that “any informed end consumer who purchases products under this section assumes the inherent risks in the purchase, use, or ingestion of the food or food product purchased, whether those risks are known or unknown, and is legally responsible for any property damage or other damage, injury, or death resulting from the inherent risks of purchasing or infesting a food product under this section.”
Public health officials are prohibited from adding warning labels to the product with this phrase, “notwithstanding any other provision of law, a state agency or political subdivision may not require licensure, permitting, certification, inspection, packaging, or labeling that pertains to the preparation, serving, use, consumption, or storage of foods or food products under this section.”
The North Dakota Department of Health has an evergreen page stating the risks of consuming raw milk. It says, “raw milk can carry harmful bacteria and other germs that can make you very sick. While it is possible to get foodborne illnesses from many different foods, raw milk is one of the riskiest of all. Getting sick from raw milk can cause diarrhea, stomach cramping and vomiting. Less commonly, it can lead to kidney failure, paralysis, chronic disorders and even death.
“Raw milk and raw milk products (such as cheeses and yogurts made with raw milk) can be contaminated with bacteria such as Brucella, Campylobacter, Listeria, Mycobacterium bovis, Salmonella, Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, Shigella, Streptococcus pyogenes and Yersinia enterocolitica.”
The page on ND Health also says that “raw milk and raw milk products can be contamianted with bacteria that cause serious illness, hospitalization, or even death. From 1998 through 2011, 148 outbreaks due to consumption of raw milk or raw milk products were reported to CDC. These resulted in 2,384 illnesses, 284 hospitalizations and 2 deaths. Most of the illnesses were caused by E. coli, Campylobacter, Salmonella or Listeria.
“A substantial proportion of the raw milk-associated disease burden falls on children; among the 104 outbreaks from 1998-2011 with information on the patients’ ages available, 82% involved at least one person younger than 20 years old. Because not all cases of foodborne illness are recognized and reported, the actual number of illnesses associated with raw milk likely is greater.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) agree with the ND Department of Health, stating that outbreaks linked to raw milk are more common in states where raw milk is legal.
There have been four raw milk outbreaks in the U.S. in the last five months. A Campylobacter outbreak linked to Sweet Grass Dairy raw milk in Ohio sickened an undetermined number of people. A Campylobacter outbreak in Colorado sickened at least 20 people after they drank raw milk from Larga Vista Ranch in Pueblo County. A Cryptosporidium outbreak in New Mexico associated with raw milk sickened at least six people. And a Salmonella outbreak in Utah sickened at least nine people after they consumed raw milk produced by Heber Valley Raw Milk.
FDA and EPA Release Fish Consumption Advice
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2017/fda-and-epa-release-fish-consumption-advice/
By News Desk (Jan 23, 2017)
The FDA and EPA have issued advice about eating fish, geared toward pregnant women, women of child-bearing age, breastfeeding mothers, and parents of young children. The issue regarding fish consumption is mercury content.
A reference chart sorts 62 types of fish into three categories: “Best choices” you can eat two to three times a week; “good choices” that you can eat once a week, and “fish to avoid.” Fish in the “best choices” category include almost 90% of the fish eaten in this country.
FDA conducted an analysis of fish consumption data and found that 50% of pregnant women surveyed ate less than 2 ounces a week. That is much less than the recommended amount. The nutritional benefits of eating fish are important for growth and development during pregnancy and early childhood.
One serving of fish is about 4 ounces, so that means everyone, especially those in the target group ,should eat 8 to 12 ounces per week. But since all fish contain traces of mercury, which can damage the brain and nervous system, government officials have put a limit on the amount you should eat. This new advice is consistent with the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
While the serving size for adults is 4 ounces, which is measured before cooking, the recommended serving size for children is smaller. Children should eat fish once or twice a week. And choose a variety of fish types.
Dr. Stephen Ostroff, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine, said in a statement, “Fish are an important source of protein and other nutrients for young children and women who are or may become pregnant, or are breastfeeding. This advice clearly shows the great diversity of fish in the U.S. market that they can consume safely. This new, clear and concrete advice is an excellent tool for making safe and healthy choices when buying fish.”
According to the chart, the fish that are lower in mercury include shrimp, pollock, salmon, canned light tuna, haddock, crab, flounder, sole, shad, herring, tilapia, catfish and cod along with 23 others. The fish that are labeled “good choices” include bluefish, grouper, halibut, mani mani, monkfish, rockfish, tilefish, and striped bass, among others. The fish to avoid include King mackerel, marling, orange roughy, shark, swordfish, tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico, and bigeye tuna.
If you fish to eat, check for local advisories where you fish and plan your fish consumption based on local and state advisories. If there is no information, eat just one fish meal a week from local waters. Clean and trim the fish of fat and skin, since locally-caught fish may contain contaminants besides mercury that can be reduced by trimming and cooking.
Tech helps shippers, transporters keep it cool, safe, compliant
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2017/01/tech-helps-shippers-transporters-keep-it-cool-safe-compliant/#.WJA9gPmLSUl
By LAURA MUSHRUSH (Jan 23, 2017)
The third in a four-part series brought to you by Par Technology Corp.
It’s the dead of summer and a truckload of fresh beef is making its way from the Texas Panhandle to a distribution center in Tennessee. Somewhere around mile 670, in western Arkansas, the truck breaks down.
A quick assessment by the driver reveals it’s a major breakdown and backup is called. In total, the trailer goes without refrigeration for 37 minutes, and for a sensitive product like fresh meat, the quality and safety is severely jeopardized.
“Temperature control is essential to control bacterial growth. If the temperature becomes compromised, then a food safety risk can show up,” said Dave Theno, CEO of Gray Dog Partners Inc.
Preventing that kind of risk is at the heart of the sanitary transportation rule that Congress mandated with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). But compliance isn’t the only reason for those in the food supply chain to keep it cool.
“There is an economic driver for it too. Shelf life is set on maintaining a product properly. If a product withstands a major temperature increase, it may reduce shelf life and cause it to spoil early, which leads to additional charges,” Theno said.
One way for food companies to monitor the safety of their products during transportation and to comply with the FSMA final rule on Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food is by using real-time monitoring devices that track location and temperature.
Doug Morris, director of safety and security operations at the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), said this type of technology is not only essential for food companies to keep and eye on their products, but for truck drivers to do their part in ensuring the delivery was done correctly.
“In the old days when a driver ran out of fuel and the temperature took a spike, he might not have known if the products remained cool in that time period, but could have gotten the temperature back to where it was supposed to be once the truck was fueled up again,” he says.
“But the high tech they are using now can tell if trailer doors have been opened and if it warms up even a couple of degrees.”
In researching a white paper, Par Technology Corp. found that annually between 5 to 10 percent of food companies are subjected to “excursions” — aka unexpected temperature events — in the manufacturing, transportation and distribution chain. The yearly cost to the food industry is dear. According to the white paper, there are four main excursions:
Exterior heat – A trailer’s absorption of outside heat, which impacts the inside temperature.
Residual heat – Retention of heat in a trailer after a temperature spike.
Infiltration heat – A compromised trailer looses cold air or has warm air enter through holes or cracks, making the temperature unstable.
Respirator heat – Heat created by product respiration.
All of these kinds of excursions can happen during transportation, placing an additional weight on transporters to deliver uncompromised products, and making them the biggest supporters of real-time tracking technology.
“Transporters are the biggest link in food process chain because that is when the food itself can be contaminated or adulterated. A driver can’t just get in a truck and drive from point A to point B. He has to constantly monitor for a lot of things most people aren’t aware of,” Morris said.
“Foodstuffs they are hauling are less likely to be contaminated if the proper procedures are followed and the right technology is used.”
Editor’s note: Watch for Part 4 of this series, which includes information about high-tech solutions to help food companies meet FSMA requirements, scheduled to publish Jan. 30.
IoT a Key Ingredient for Food Safety
Source : https://foodsafetytech.com/column/iot-key-ingredient-food-safety/
By Jeff Rieger (Jan 23, 2017)
The Internet of Things (IoT) is the concept that everything will one day be connected, similar to when computers became networked and connected with the internet. A sensor in a walk-in freezer is now smart enough to communicate directly with the smartphone in your pocket and a computer at the office, all in real-time. This is what IoT is all about, bringing more information to our fingertips in order to make faster, more informed decisions.
These new technologies are beginning to intersect and create new solutions to old problems, such as periodically monitoring the temperature of equipment in a restaurant or the trailer of a refrigerated truck. Savvy operators who understand changing food safety regulatory demands are driving the adoption of these technologies that ease the transition towards ongoing compliance. Food safety technology is changing, and what follows are a few of the driving forces.
Smartphones, Tablets and Cloud Computing Create Ready-made Environment
Apple launched the first iPhone in 2007 and within six years, 50% of the U.S. population was using a smartphone and/or tablet. Another market event that helped create the foundation for IoT was the growth of the “cloud” model where organizations could “rent” hardware, software and data storage. When coupled with new affordable wireless networking capabilities (WiFi, Bluetooth) and expanded cellular coverage at decreased cost rates for data, it became economically viable for nearly any size company operating in the foodservice industry to collect, store and access data.
Over the course of the last decade, we’ve become more comfortable living in a connected world and, as the technology has matured, businesses started to look at how smart devices could be used to improve operational efficiency and outdated food safety protocols. Instead of manually checking equipment temperatures, wireless sensors are now connecting refrigerators and other temperature controlled environments to the cloud. Any operator with a smartphone is now able to view these temperatures (or receive alerts) in real-time to ensure equipment and product temperatures meet company standards and local regulatory requirements.
Heightened Diligence by Oversight Agencies, Increased Consumer Activism and Brand Protection Concern
The responsibility for food safety spans both national (FDA/USDA/CDC) and local (state and county health department) organizations. FSMA has widened these responsibilities across the cold chain. With limited resources, operators are being asked to adopt new regulations and do their part to ensure the integrity of the product that is being stored and/or transported.
In addition, consumers have become increasingly self-aware regarding various food-related issues, including oversight and traceability (i.e. labeling, processing, etc.). This same general trend can be seen where consumers are now expecting ongoing food safety inspections and access to inspection results online. This puts more pressure on operators to ensure guidelines are met and inspections are passed.
Finally, restaurants are becoming more proactive in protecting their brand. The idea of keeping any incidents limited to the awareness of only the few that were involved is a thing of the past. Forward-thinking restaurants realize that social media has changed the landscape, and what was once a single-store minor infraction can now cause franchise-wide problems. Additionally, food safety is just good business. Restaurants have moved beyond following procedures as a necessary hurdle to now actively following and implementing best practices and policies in order to achieve operational efficiency and elevate their brand reputation.
IoT the Enabler of a Data-driven Business
Simply put, the internet has reshaped all businesses, so why not restaurants and the cold chain? With the availability of “ready-made tech”, sensors can connect to front-of-house and back-of-house environments to monitor temperature (frozen, refrigerated, ambient, hot-holding) in all types of equipment (walk-in refrigerators and freezers, under-counter coolers, showcase units and sandwich lines) to continuously and wirelessly monitor temperature and send alerts if the proper temperature is not maintained.
Data gathering can also be extended to incorporate digital task management capabilities to replace traditional Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) manual logbooks and simplify daily restaurant tasks. Organizations can streamline manual operational checklists and provide insight to managers on how well their teams are adhering to restaurant guidelines.
Restaurants now have an important tool to address the two sides of food safety—prevention and traceability. Additionally, through capturing larger data sets, restaurants can move from anecdotal guesswork to implementing data-based best practices. The ingredients are now in place for restaurants to offer the highest levels of food safety and quality that the industry has ever enjoyed.
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