Planning a picnic? Here's how to keep your food safe and free of bugs
Source : https://www.today.com/food/food-safety-tips-get-rid-bugs-picnics-barbecues-t129698
By Erica Chayes Wida (June 8, 2018)
Summer may not have officially started but plenty of people are already planning beach days, outdoor hikes and balmy nights under the stars — which means it's outdoor eating season.
We know you've got the fun part down, but what about keeping that food safe before you dine?
The perfect spread is prepared, the gingham blanket is packed and you're ready to sprawl out on a grassy knoll for an-American picnic. But the warm temperatures everyone loves are also breeding grounds for bacteria and, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, food borne illness rates are higher in summer.
Not to worry, food fans, the basics behind handling all of your edible favorites are easy to remember and even easier to do. Whether you're road tripping to your picnic destination, hosting it in your backyard, or tailgating before a baseball game, these USDA-approved tips cover all bases.
1. Keep it cool.
Use an insulated cooler and fill it with ice or frozen gel packs. If you're bringing frozen food like popsicles or ice cream, they can help keep other foods at the right temperature: a chilly 40 degrees. If a food is meant to be refrigerated (like potato salad or charcuterie) it should be kept cold until you're ready to serve it to keep it from spoiling in the hot summer sun.
Other foods that need to be kept cold include seafood and poultry, deli meat, many fruits and vegetables, and dairy products.
2. Fill it up.
A full cooler will maintain a cold temperature longer than one that's partially full. Also, avoid opening the cooler a lot so food stays colder longer. You wouldn't stand in front of the fridge with the door open all day, would ya?
3. Give it some shelter.
If you're picnicking in an area that provides shade, use it. It's best to keep coolers out of direct sunlight so the ice packs don't thaw as quickly. If you're on a beach or somewhere unshaded, bring a tent or umbrella to help food stay cold.
4. If you're hitting the road, do this.
The USDA suggests bringing ice-packed coolers to store cold stuff in the car while you're driving because, yes, cars get really hot in the sun. If you're bringing warmer items, use warm towels or insulated bags to help maintain the right temperatures of hot foods.
5. Service matters.
Serve cold food in small portions and keep the main dishes in the cooler. If you've cooked food on the grill or a campfire, keep hot food at the right temperature before serving (140 degrees or warmer). You can do this by setting cooked food to the side of the grill rack, not directly over the coals, where it could burn.
6. Ban the bugs.
When you're eating outside, it's expected that a few uninvited guests may show up to the party. Any party planner's primary defense against pesky pests will be to make sure all food is covered before, during and even after the main meal is being served. Use airtight containers when possible and good quality shrink wrap to tightly cover oddly-shaped dishes. Strategically placed citronella candles and bug lanterns can also help keep bugs at bay — but note that not all bugs will be repelled each device.
7. No sitting allowed.
When dining outside, don't let food sit out for more than two hours. If it's truly a hot day (above 90 degrees), the USDA advises never keeping it out for longer than one hour. Be sure to store any leftovers of any hot and cold items back in the cooler — or the fridge, if you can get home within the two-hour window.
Parents urged to check their homes for raw milk
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2018/06/parents-urged-to-check-for-unpasteurized-milk-in-their-homes/#.Wx8xGk66zct
By Coral Beach (June 8, 2018)
Officials double down on public warning about French Broad raw milk amidst E. coli outbreak
Health officials in Tennessee have repeated their public warning against drinking unpasteurized milk from French Broad Farm, confirming Thursday that more than 10 children are sick with infections from E. coli. The majority of the children were given raw milk from the farm before becoming sick.
The dairy has stopped distributing milk, according to a statement from the Knox County Health Department (KCHD). The health department did not report when French Broad stopped distribution. The department began receiving reports “last week” about children with infections from E. coli O157:H7.
In their public warning, county health officials urged people to check their homes for French Broad unpasteurized, raw dairy products.
“… KCHD continues to advise the public not to consume raw milk or any other unpasteurized products they may have from the farm; this includes disposing of all raw milk and unpasteurized products they may have from this farm,” the public warning states.
Investigators and epidemiologists continue their search for a confirmed source for the potentially deadly bacteria, but little is known for sure at this point, except that at least four children are in intensive care units with kidney failure.
“Environmental samples, milk and manure, have been collected for testing. The timeline for results is unknown. The farm is not currently distributing milk,” according to the county health department update Thursday.
The department is working on the investigation in conjunction with the Tennessee Department of Human Services. In addition to the raw dairy products from French Broad, the public health agencies are also looking at a day care facility, A Kids Place Inc. “Several other cases” of E. coli infections have been confirmed among children in the facility’s “Baby House” for toddlers.
A statement from A Kids Place reports the “Baby House” was closed and cleaned. However, state health officials had ordered the entire multi-building facility closed on Tuesday. They doubled down on that order Thursday when they discovered the business was still open. The children were sent home and the center closed until further notice.
It was not immediately known whether any of the infected children from the day care center had been given unpasteurized milk from Broad Farm before becoming sick. Another possible of E. coli bacteria for the children at Kids Place could be animals kept on the property.
“During the investigation, exposure to ruminant farm animals was identified as a potential source of infection,” the county health department reported. “… by taking infection control steps, the imminent health threat has been mitigated.”
As with the dairy that produced the implicated raw milk, public health officials collected environmental samples from A Kids Place. They also took samples from animals. County officials said in the warning that they did not know when test results would be available.
The Tennessee health department issued a statement indicating the entire day care center will remain closed until there is documentation that E. coli and other pathogens are not present.
Animals at A Kids Place are not part of an adjacent animal agriculture operation, according to a statement from the day care business.
“Livestock are located on an adjacent private farm, but the children in our care do not interact with those animals as part of our activities,” the statement said.
“We do have dogs, goats and ducks that are contained in an area on our property, and we have contacted agricultural experts to examine those animals. Children in the Baby House do not interact with any animals in our programs.”
Long-standing warnings, little regulation
For years local, state and federal public health and agriculture departments have been warning the public against drinking unpasteurized milk and eating products made from it.
The warnings stem from the same things that drove Louis Pasteur to invent pasteurization in the 1800s. Bacteria, viruses, parasites and other pathogens that can sicken and kill people are frequently found in unpasteurized dairy products.
“Raw milk and other unpasteurized products can contain harmful bacteria, including E. coli 0157. While it is possible to get sick from many other foods, raw milk is one of the riskiest,” according to the Knox County Health Department warning.
“E. coli can also be found in the feces of cattle, goats, sheep and other ruminant animals. Historically, the major source for human illness is cattle, which can carry E. coli 0157 and show no signs of illness. These bacteria, however, can cause severe diarrhea and even life-threatening complications for humans, especially children, older adults, pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems.”
It is against federal law to sell unpasteurized dairy products across state lines. Many states do not allow any sale or distribution of raw milk. Some allow on-farm sales and others, such as California, allow retail sales of raw dairy products. Warning labels are required on all raw milk sold in California and some other states, but not all of them.
In Tennessee and a few other states, selling or distributing raw milk and products made with it is prohibited — except for people who operate cow-share dairies. Referred to as herd-share co-operatives in some states, the concept for such businesses is for dairy operators to charge people for shares of a dairy cow or herd. Share holders who receive the raw dairy products are prohibited from distributing or selling to anyone else.
Little regulatory ink is on the books in most states where cow-share operations are allowed. Tennessee is one of those states. There isn’t anything in the state’s cow-share statute defining what rights or responsibilities share holders have, except for payments to the dairy.
Dairies in Tennessee that sell pasteurized milk and other products are required to go through licensing, certification and submit to regular inspections and testing. Raw milk dairies are not subject to any licensing, certification, inspections or routine testing requirements.
The state agriculture department, which in many states is charged with enforcing whatever raw milk laws are on the books, is not involved with unpasteurized dairy products at all. Corrine Gould, a public information officer with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, said the department is not charged with any responsibilities or in any way in terms of raw milk.
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Top Food Safety Trends for 2018 | Infiniti Research
Source : https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3451452
By Associated Press (June 7, 2018)
Infiniti Research, a world-renowned market intelligence solutions provider, has announced the completion of their latest list blog on the top food safety trends for 2018.
This press release features multimedia. View the full release here: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20180607005611/en/
Top Five Trends in Food Safety. (Graphic: Business Wire)
Food is the spirit of life-giving energy to all life forms including humans. However, humans have changed with the consumption of packaged and processed foods. Even then, their system has not advanced to such a level that it can handle any kind of food. Infected and adulterated foods cause a lot of safety concerns amongst humans. Due to which, food safety has been on the agenda of many food authorities. Food monitoring for a long time has been doubtful and authorities are continuously on the lookout for ways to apply strict standards for food safety. In one of our latest blogs, Infiniti has listed the top food safety trends for 2018.
“Adulterated and infected foods cause a lot of safety concerns amongst humans,” says an industry expert from .
To know more about the scope of our engagement,
Top food safety trends for 2018:
Food safety modernization act (FSMA): After the eruption of many foodborne diseases, the US Food & Drug Administration is bringing about enormous changes to its regulations. In 2016, FDA released its reorganized strategy for the application and training of FSMA. The strategy sketches foundational rules with Preventative Controls for Human and Animal Food, Produce Safety, and Foreign Supplier Verification Programs. Changing dining trends: Eating out has become an obvious dining trend, which has become even more popular in the last few years. It also brings about new challenges as restaurants have to serve more customers and have to fight it out for acquiring fresh supplies seven days a week. Upholding food safety while balancing the cost factor and procurement of fresh foods is absolutely a challenging task. Companies are turning towards automation to challenge this issue. To know more about this engagement, Supply chain traceability: After many food scandals like the horsemeat scandal, customers are demanding a high level of discoverability on what they eat. Consumers are always on the watch for healthy, fresh, and locally obtained food and ingredients. In order to make food supply chain traceability a possibility, many food firms are looking towards blockchain technology to offer an easy answer. Blockchain technology can trace a finished product back to the origin with comfort, which cannot be interfered. As a result, food suppliers can build trust towards their brand amongst the consumers. , to know more about the top food safety trends for 2018
Infiniti Research is a global market intelligence company offering strategic insights to help look beyond market disruptions, study competitive activity, and develop intelligent business strategies. Listed below are the top food safety trends for 2018.
View the complete list of the top food safety trends for 2018:
About Infiniti Research
Established in 2003, Infiniti Research is a leading market intelligence company providing smart solutions to address your business challenges. Infiniti Research studies markets in more than 100 countries to help analyze competitive activity, see beyond market disruptions, and develop intelligent business strategies.
With 15+ years of experience and offices across three continents, Infiniti Research has been instrumental in providing a complete range of competitive intelligence, strategy, and research services for over 550 companies across the globe.
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After court loss: Cattlemen want Trump to make COOL part of the deal
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2018/06/after-court-loss-cattlemen-want-trump-to-make-cool-part-of-the-deal/#.Wxp9nE66zct
By Dan Flynn (June 7, 2018)
Those independent cattle ranchers who mostly hold up in Billings, MT, won’t back down when it comes to country of origin labeling (COOL), which is also favored by many food safety advocates. A federal judge in Spokane just declined to bring back COOL for beef and pork, but the ranchers say there is still someone who they say can make beef and pork great again.
The Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America, or R-CALF, has refocused its efforts on President Donald J. Trump, who is either renegotiating NAFTA or tearing it up in favor of new separate agreements with Canada and Mexico or perhaps both.
In all that trade action, R-CALF hopes Trump’s deal makers can move what they see as a troublesome report from the World Trade Organizatio. In 2015 the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body upheld findings by the Compliance Panel. The WTO action favored Canada and Mexico ultimately resulted in Congress and USDA dropping COOL requirements.
Canada and Mexico contend labels of origin on beef and pork is a non-tariff barrier to free trade.
USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service removed beef, ground beef, pork and ground pork from the list of covered commodities. R-CALF and its affiliate, Cattle Producers of Washington, sued Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue early last year, demanding USDA restore country of origin labeling for beef and pork.
U.S. District Court Judge Rosanna Malouf Peterson of the Eastern District for Washington State, dismissed the action against Perdue, saying USDA’s 2016 rule eliminating COOL was enacted just as Congress intended. The judge did agree the cattle producers suffered financial harm that was “fairly traceable” to losing country of origin labeling for beef and pork.
“The fact that the court agreed with us that independent pork and beef producers are harmed by COOL makes it even clearer that the Trump Administration and Congress must act now to protect them,” said David Muraskin, lead counsel for R-CALF in the suit. “This movement has been gaining ground outside of court, and we expect it to continue doing so despite this ruling,”
R-CALF’s legal team, which in addition to Muraskin included Beth Terrell and Blythe Chandler of Terrell Marshall Law Group in Seattle, and J. Dudley Butler of the Butler Farm and Ranch Law Group in Benton, MS, tried to challenge the 1989 rule that allowed removal of COOL labels on imported beef. However, the court rule that underlying action had to be challenged prior to 1995.
Moreover, the court found that Congress’ act of repealing COOL for beef signified it is clear intent to allow imported beef to be sold to consumers without COOL markings.
“While obviously disappointing, the outcome of this case highlights the urgent need for the new Administration and new Congress to reverse the harm to U.S. cattle producers brought about by the actions of the previous Administration and Congress,” said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard.
“President Trump now has the opportunity to immediately reinstate COOL in his ongoing renegotiation of NAFTA as well as by initiating a rulemaking within USDA to require imported beef to bear its foreign marking through retail sale, just as the COOL rule effectively did from 2009 through 2015,” he added.
Food Safety Agency to support food producers
Source : https://www.azernews.az/business/133091.html
By Sara Israfilbayova (June 6, 2018)
The Food Safety Agency of Azerbaijan appealed to the producers of food products.
“Sustainable development of entrepreneurial activity in the country is one of the important components of the economic policy of the Azerbaijani state. In this direction, comprehensive measures are taken to develop relations between the state and entrepreneurs, improve legislation and administrative procedures, eliminate the facts of illegal interference, education and various types of services,” the Agency reported.
The Agency noted that highly appreciates the participation of each business entity in the processes aimed at ensuring food safety. And, in this regard, the Agency will provide all-round assistance to entrepreneurs to organize their activities in accordance with modern requirements at all stages of food production.
"The Agency, which will start exercising its powers from July 1 of this year, will register all business entities involved in food production in the country, and, in accordance with the legislation, monitoring, control and auditing activities will be carried out, issue appropriate certificates to ensure regulation export-import processes in accordance with legislation and international standards," the Agency said.
The Agency’s goal is to support Azerbaijani entrepreneurs in the long and intensive withdrawal of their products to the world market, increase of the world market demand for food products made in Azerbaijan, as well as to further increase Made in Azerbaijan brand’s reputation.
The Food Safety Agency was established by the decree of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on additional measures to improve the food security in the country in February 2017.
Under the decree, the Food Safety Agency will help ensure the regulatory framework of food safety (development and approval of sanitary norms and rules, as well as hygienic standards), and will carry out risk analysis, hygiene certification, as well as provide a quality certificate for food products exported to foreign countries, ensure state control over the protection of the rights of consumers of food products and at all stages of food production on the basis of the “from field to table” principle.
FDA and USDA Team Up on Produce Safety Requirements
Source : https://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/news/fda-and-usda-team-up-on-produce-safety-requirements/
By Staff (June 6, 2018)
FDA and USDA Team Up on Produce Safety Requirements
As part of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) ongoing effort to make the oversight of food safety stronger and more efficient, the FDA and the USDA yesterday announced the alignment of the USDA Harmonized Good Agricultural Practices Audit Program (USDA H-GAP) with the requirements of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act’s (FSMA’s) Produce Safety Rule.
The new step is part of an ongoing effort to streamline produce safety requirements for farmers. The joint announcement was made by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., during a visit by the Secretary to the FDA’s White Oak campus in Silver Spring, MD.
“Government should make things easier for our customers whenever possible and these important improvements help accomplish that goal,” said Secretary Perdue. “Specialty crop farmers who take advantage of a USDA Harmonized GAP audit now will have a much greater likelihood of passing a FSMA inspection as well. This means one stop at USDA helps producers meet federal regulatory requirements, deliver the safest food in the world and grow the market for American-grown food. This is an important first step. We look forward to continuing to work with FDA, other government agencies and especially our state partners to ensure proper training of auditors and inspectors, and to help producers understand changes in the audit.”
While the requirements of both programs are not identical, the relevant technical components in the FDA Produce Safety Rule are covered in the USDA H-GAP Audit Program. The aligned components include areas such as biological soil amendments; sprouts; domesticated and wild animals; worker training; health and hygiene; and equipment, tools and buildings. The alignment will help farmers by enabling them to assess their food safety practices as they prepare to comply with the Produce Safety Rule. However, the USDA audits are not a substitute for FDA or state regulatory inspections.
“We’re committed to working with USDA to pursue our shared goal of advancing food safety in a way that is efficient and helps farmers meet our regulatory standards. By working together, our two programs can advance these efforts more effectively,” said Commissioner Gottlieb. “Today’s announcement will help FDA and states better prioritize our inspectional activities by using USDA H-GAP audit information to prioritize inspectional resources and ultimately enhance our overall ability to protect public health. Inspections are key to helping to ensure that produce safety standards are being met, but they only provide a snapshot in time. Leveraging the data and work being done by USDA will provide us with more information so that we can develop a clearer understanding of the safety and vulnerabilities on produce farms as well as concentrate our oversight and resources where they are most needed.”
The Produce Safety Rule, which went into effect on Jan. 26, 2016, establishes science-based minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing and holding of fruits and vegetables grown for human consumption. The rule is part of the FDA’s ongoing efforts to implement FSMA. Large farming operations were required to comply with the rule in January 2018. However, the FDA had previously announced that inspections to assess compliance with the Produce Safety Rule for produce other than sprouts would not begin until Spring 2019. Small and very small farms have additional time to comply.
The USDA Harmonized GAP Audit Program is an audit developed as part of the Produce GAP Harmonization Initiative, an industry-driven effort to develop food safety GAP standards and audit checklists for pre-harvest and post-harvest operations. The Initiative is a collaborative effort on the part of growers, shippers, produce buyers, audit organizations and government agencies, including USDA. The USDA Harmonized GAP audit, in keeping with the Initiative’s goals, is applicable to all fresh produce commodities, all sizes of on-farm operations and all regions in the United States. For more information visit: https://www.ams.usda.gov.
Yesterday’s announcement builds on a formal agreement signed earlier this year outlining plans to increase interagency coordination regarding produce safety, inspections of dual-jurisdiction facilities and biotechnology activities. The FDA and USDA are committed to continuing to work collaboratively to ensure that the requirements and expectations of the USDA H-GAP Audit Program remain aligned with the FDA’s Produce Safety Rule.
Farmers who are interested in learning more about this alignment and what they can do to prepare for compliance with the Produce Safety Rule can contact their regional representative of the Produce Safety Network or find more information at FDA.gov.
The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is made up of 29 agencies and offices with nearly 100,000 employees who serve the American people at more than 4,500 locations across the country and abroad. They provide leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, nutrition, and related issues based on public policy, the best available science, and effective management. They have a vision to provide economic opportunity through innovation, helping rural America to thrive; to promote agriculture production that better nourishes Americans while also helping feed others throughout the world; and to preserve our nation's natural resources through conservation, restored forests, improved watersheds, and healthy private working lands.
Tiger Brands wants new standards and food safety group
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2018/06/tiger-brands-wants-new-standards-and-food-safety-group/#.Wxp-lU66zct
By News Desk (June 6, 2018)
After listeriosis outbreaks in North America in recent years, the responsible parties involved usually responded with promises on their own to enact more stringent standards.
That’s definitely how Canada’s Maple Leaf Foods and Colorado’s Rocky Ford Cantaloupe Growers Association responded to deadly outbreaks. They acted on their own to make improvements.
In South Africa, there’s a different twist. Not only is the country experiencing the worst listeriosis outbreak in known history, corporate executives say the government needs to step up first.
Tiger Brands, the company responsible for the listeriosis outbreak involving 1,038 illnesses and 204 deaths so far, wants the government to adopt further food safety and hygiene standards before it puts its stockholders at risk again. Tiger Brands is South Africa’s largest food company.
The company’s CEO Lawrence MacDougall also wants South Africa to set up a food safety council.
“In a post listeriosis environment, you would probably have hoped there were industry standards and the department of health and industry was collaborating closer to keep pace with developments in the industry and within immune deficient inviduals,” MacDougall recently said.
“I would like us to get there.”
South Africa’s current standard is 100 colony-forming units (CFUs) per 100-gram sample, according to MacDougall. He wants to know where South Africa is going to “end up.”
“Collaborative discussions have not taken place,” he contends.
The “CFS” term is an estimate of viable bacteria or cells measures by sampling. When adopted, producers would be required to certify a lower number at the end of the product’s shelf life.
The Tiger Brands chief says the government did not share any expectations about those details last month and was hoping for “broader collaborative discussions after this.”
Currently, the “cause” standard, South African National Standard 885, is a voluntary industry guideline. It was last updated in September 2011. It is a food factory or processing facility standard for product ingredients covering microbiological and chemical examination.
Tiger Brands, since March 4 has closed its ready-to-eat meat plants, including its polony production plant. MacDougall says he wants the new food standards to be in place before those three plans are reopened.
MacDougall said he’s waiting for consumer research to come back before the plants reopen, and there is no date for the re-start. Tiger Brands is conducting a ” root cause” analysis of the outbreak. It previously operated under a 10 CFUs standard.
MacDougall says the company had not seen anything that would “indicate negligence.” He says the proposed food safety council could operate as either a private or government entity. He has acknowledged the outbreak strain, known as ST6, was found in Tiger Brand plants.
South Africa has lost 2,000 jobs in the country’s pork business since ready-to-eat meat products, including cheap processed meat products, became caught up in the listeriosis recall. A 40 percent slump in pork prices resulted.
Experts Seek to Share Lessons From Food Safety Lapses
Source : http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/articles/2018/06/06/experts-seek-to-share-lessons-from-food-safety-lapses
By Sandra Eskin & Karin Hoelzer (June 6, 2018)
A shopper browses prepackaged salad mixes in South Portland, Maine. The Food and Drug Administration is investigating how romaine lettuce became contaminated with E. coli and sickened people in at least 35 states.
Brianna Souku/Portland Press Herald-Getty Images
When dangerous bacteria or other contaminants get into the food supply—even if no one is harmed—businesses and government agencies have an opportunity to study what went wrong and to seek ways to avoid similar risks in the future. The investigative method known as root cause analysis can help public officials and companies determine how contamination occurred and why the food safety systems in place did not prevent it.
Although the tasks of identifying and recalling unsafe products take precedence, answering these deeper questions is crucial to better protecting consumers. That’s why experts taking part in the National Food Policy Conference in March and researchers writing in the journal Food Protection Trends call for new efforts to encourage these root cause analyses and stress the need to disseminate their lessons to businesses and regulators. Right now, these in-depth analyses are not performed routinely.
When shared widely, results of root cause analyses can prompt food safety advances at businesses that make comparable products, reducing risk and benefiting more consumers. At the conference, Jenny Scott, a senior adviser with the Food and Drug Administration, said findings from these investigations help the FDA develop guidance documents that companies can use to improve preventive measures in their supply chains. The agency has published reports from its own root cause analyses of major foodborne illness outbreaks, though Scott said it has conducted these studies only occasionally because of limited resources.
Successful root cause analyses benefit from cooperative relationships between public health officials and companies, according to Steve Mandernach, bureau chief for food and consumer safety with the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals and a conference panelist. For example, his office changed inspectors’ training and protocols to help build rapport with businesses implicated in outbreaks of foodborne illness. Investigators now focus first on working with a company to identify and fix flaws in its food safety system instead of citing the firm for regulatory violations—the traditional role of bureau staff. Mandernach said the emphasis on problem-solving promotes the frank and collaborative discussions central to productive root cause analyses.
Individual businesses and private groups, such as trade associations, also should promote the use of root cause analyses and the important benefits of sharing lessons learned. But the process can still face obstacles, such as tensions between a company’s investigators and its staff or with the suppliers whom they interview.
Panelist Steven Hermansky, chief food safety and quality officer for Conagra Brands, said that if employees perceive an inquiry as an effort to assign blame, they may be less willing to provide information needed to determine the underlying causes of a food safety issue. His team tries to promote worker comfort and candor by analyzing incidents of different levels of severity, close calls, and operational matters beyond food safety. He said this approach demonstrates that the practice is a routine part of the company’s culture and system improvement process, not a punitive exercise.
Companies often face additional challenges after completing root cause analyses. Concerns about legal liability and confidentiality may deter a business or trade group from sharing results with competitors and government regulators, or a company’s leaders may deem it too costly to devote staff time and other resources to distribution of the findings.
Sanjay Gummalla, vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs with the American Frozen Food Institute, said his group is committed to collecting and disseminating lessons from root cause analyses. However, he and other panelists underscored the difficulties in creating a regulatory environment and public policies that ease a range of concerns across the thousands of businesses supplying the nation’s food.
The authors of the article in Food Protection Trends—including two from The Pew Charitable Trusts—recommend that firms willing to share findings from their investigations capitalize on industry conferences and publications, such as academic and public health journals. They wrote that such opportunities have been missed in the past. For example, root cause analyses received scant attention in presentations at the International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) 2017 annual meeting. That gathering drew about 3,600 attendees from nearly 60 countries.
The researchers said organizers of IAFP meetings should dedicate more sessions to root cause analyses and generally encourage speakers to share lessons from these experiences. The same topics deserve greater attention at regional conferences so that new knowledge reaches businesses unable to attend national or international events. The authors also recommended that investigators in government and the private sector publish their findings in journal articles and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a free resource widely read by food safety and public health professionals.
By seizing these opportunities to share the underlying causes of food safety lapses, companies can help their peers and public health agencies identify and address systemic weaknesses that expose consumers to preventable harm. Root cause analyses are crucial to understanding prior failures, but to maximize their benefits, their lessons must ultimately reach other enterprises at risk of making similar errors.
Sandra Eskin directs The Pew Charitable Trusts’ work on food safety, and Karin Hoelzer, a veterinarian, works on Pew’s safe food and antibiotic resistance projects.
Food Safety Week to focus on ‘people who protect your plate’
Source : https://www.newfoodmagazine.com/news/67426/food-safety-week/
By newfoodmagazine.com (June 4, 2018)
The Food Standards Agency has launched National Food Safety Week, with the focus this year being on the work of FSA staff and thousands of others across the food supply chain working behind-the-scenes to ensure that food is safe and what it says it is.
Under the banner of ‘the people who protect your plate’, Food Safety Week, which began on June 1, will shine a light on the people working day in, day out to make sure consumers can trust the food on their plates.
This wide range of people includes staff in abattoirs, and inspectors who visit vineyards, warehouses, cutting plants and dairies. The week will also feature staff who tackle food crime and those who help to keep people living with food allergies and intolerances safe.
Much of this work is done in partnership with local authorities, who are responsible for checking food safety and hygiene in more than 600,000 food businesses across the country like restaurants and caterers, issuing hygiene ratings under the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme. Councils also help to protect public health through their trading standards and port health work.
Jason Feeney, Chief Executive Officer of the Food Standards Agency said: “The UK has globally respected food standards, and our food and drink is rightly regarded as some of the safest in the world. More than one billion food products are sold every week.
“It’s the responsibility of every food business – from abattoirs to corner shops, Michelin-starred restaurants to your favourite take-away – to comply with food regulations. This week we want to recognise the behind-the-scenes people throughout the food chain who work hard every day of the year to make sure businesses follow the rules and our food standards remain high.”
The FSA published a series of profiles, each honouring a specific individual who embodies an area of work the agency does to protect the food system. The profiles can be seen here. They include a meat hygiene and dairy inspector, the leader of the wine inspection team, a novel food policy analyst and its food allergy and intolerance research manager.
E. coli claims 4 more lives; growers promise changes
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2018/06/e-coli-claims-4-more-lives-romaine-growers-promise-changes/#.Wxp_s066zct
By Coral Beach (June 2, 2018)
CDC reports 197 sick in 35 states with more infections expected; FDA still searching for source
More people are sick, more people have died, and more states are reporting E. coli infections in an ongoing outbreak linked to romaine lettuce. As the CDC was releasing the new numbers Friday, growers were promising to figure out what happened and take action.
Outbreak investigators have been trying to trace the romaine for two months, but they still can’t determine who grew, processed and shipped the implicated produce.
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Five people in the United States have died in the outbreak, which has sickened at least 197 as of May 30. That’s 25 more confirmed cases since the previous update on May 16.
Almost half of the infected people have been so ill that they had to be admitted to hospitals; 26 people developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure. At least six people in Canada are also confirmed with the outbreak strain of E. coli.
All of the victims who reported eating romaine before becoming sick — except for eight inmates in an Alaskan prison — said they ate chopped romaine. The sick prisoners ate romaine from whole heads, according to prison officials. Those whole heads were traced to Harrison Farms in Yuma, but the farm finished harvesting and plowed the field before investigators could visit it.
Leaders at the Food and Drug Administration reiterated on Thursday that incomplete and incompatible shipping and receiving records continue to slow their traceback efforts on the chopped romaine, which restaurants and grocery stores sold to consumers. They continue to review dozens of growers, processors and distributors, many of whom do not use labeling to provide complete supply chain traceability.
The assumption has been that the implicated romaine was harvested in the Yuma, AZ, area because of the illness onset dates. The first person infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 became ill on March 13. The most recent victim developed symptoms on May 12, according to the Friday update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The outbreak victim who became sick on May 12 is likely among the last new cases that will develop, according to a CDC spokesperson. It usually takes one to eight days for infection symptoms to develop after a person consumes contaminated foods or beverages.
However, additional cases are likely to be added to the overall count because of the two-to four-week lag time there is between a person becoming ill and confirmed reports reaching federal authorities. The numbers of newly reported cases has declined in the past few weeks and CDC officials are hopeful the outbreak is nearing the end.
“Most of the people who recently became sick ate romaine lettuce when lettuce from the Yuma growing region was likely still available in stores, restaurants, and in peoples’ homes,” the CDC spokesperson told Food Safety News on Friday afternoon.
“Some of these people may have eaten romaine near the end of its shelf life and had longer than average incubation periods. … Other people likely got sick from someone else who was sick from the romaine. This can happen when someone is caring for a sick family member.”
Stumbling blocks and promises
Since the first FDA report on the outbreak investigation, which was posted April 10, the agency has repeatedly stated the implicated romaine was likely grown or originated from the winter growing areas in or around the Yuma region. The region generally supplies romaine lettuce to the U.S. during November-March each year.
Produce industry representatives have contended all along that the Yuma area romaine harvest was virtually finished by the end of March, with low volumes continuing to be harvested through April 16. The FDA and produce groups say romaine has a shelf life of about 21 days after being harvested.
Leaders at the California and Arizona Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (LGMA) organizations have said numerous times in the past two months that their industry is doing everything possible to help the FDA pinpoint who grew, chopped and distributed the implicated romaine. They have also said they are working with state and federal investigators who are looking for the source of the E. coli that apparently contaminated the romaine.
“This incident is a stark reminder of the size and scope of our reach, and we, more than anyone want to understand how it happened,” Arizona Leafy Greens Food Safety Committee Administrator Teressa Lopez said in a news release issued Friday by the California LGMA leaders.
California and Arizona grow 98 percent of U.S. produced romaine lettuce. The two states “grow, harvest and ship 130 million servings of leafy greens every day,” according to the news release. To protect their customers — and their livelihood — the two leafy greens groups are establishing a task force “to sharpen food safety systems through the entire supply chain from production, to packaging, processing and distribution.”
The steering committee for the task force has 18 members, including co-chairmen who are from Church Brothers Farms and Dole. The other 16 members include representatives from six other produce companies, as well as government officials, researchers, produce trade association leaders, and a representative of the consumer advocacy group STOP Foodborne Illness.
The California and Arizona Leafy Greens Marketing Agreements are taking the lead in creating this task force, said Scott Horsfall, CEO of the California LGMA. We want to ensure comprehensive representation from the entire supply chain.
While the leafy greens representatives say they are committed to making changes, they, like the FDA investigators, need information that might not be available no matter how long they look for it.
“It is very difficult to identify an issue weeks or months after the fact, primarily because of the expediency with which our product is harvested and in the marketplace,” Arizona Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement Chair Jerry Muldoon said in the news release.
Muldoon said the leafy greens groups believe they can “help get to the bottom of this and make changes to processes after our product leaves the farm, as well as closely examine other factors at play.”
The LGMA organizations were founded in the wake of the deadly 2006 E. coli outbreak traced to fresh spinach from California. That outbreak sickened at least 205 people, killing four. The current outbreak has already claimed five lives and is on track to eclipse the number of overall cases confirmed in the 2006 outbreak.
The chairman of the California LGMA, Steve Church of Church Brothers Farms said the leafy greens organizations are ready to act.
“The strength of the LGMA is that if we learn how and where problems may be occurring, we can quickly change our program,” said Church said in the news release.
Leafy Greens Food Safety Task Force
•Jerry Muldoon of Dole Fresh Vegetables, Arizona; and
•Steve Church of Church Brothers, California
•John Boelts of Desert Premium Farms
•Mary Campbell of Yuma Safe Produce Council
•Bonnie Fernandez-Fenaroli of Center for Produce Safety
•Ed Foster of Arizona Department of Agriculture
•Hank Giclas/Sonia Salas of Western Growers
•Scott Horsfall of California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement
•Natalie Krout-Greenberg of California Department of Food and Agriculture
•Teressa Lopez of Arizona Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement
•Drew McDonald of Taylor Farms
•Jennifer McEntire of United Fresh Produce Association
•Vicki-Lynne Scott of Amigo Farms
•Victor Smith of JV Smith Companies
•Abby Taylor of Grower-Shipper Association of Central California
•Michael Taylor of STOP Foodborne Illness and former FDA deputy commissioner of foods
•Shelly Tunis of Yuma Fresh Vegetable Association
•Jack Vessey of Vessey Farms
•Kami Weddle of Rousseau Farms
•Bob Whitaker of Produce Marketing Association
Federal agencies will be involved with the task force on a collaborative basis, serving as technical and informational advisers to the task force, according to the LGMA news release.
Electron Beam Technology: A Platform for Safe, Fresh, and Chemical-Free Food
Source : https://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/magazine-archive1/aprilmay-2018/electron-beam-technology-a-platform-for-safe-fresh-and-chemical-free-food/
By Suresh D. Pillai, Ph.D., and Sohini S. Bhatia
People deserve safe foods—foods that are safe from chemical, microbial, and physical toxicants. There is an expectation that foods are free of microbial pathogens, insecticides, and chemical preservatives, and are as “fresh” as possible. Consumers are willing to pay a premium for such foods. Food quality is of high value to the food industry, and it is therefore not surprising that companies around the world are investing in technologies that ensure quality and safety.
Electron beam (eBeam) technology is a nonthermal, chemical-free, food processing technology that is slowly and steadily making a profound change in the quality and safety of foods, food ingredients, and food packaging around the world. This article discusses the science, current commercial applications, and potential and emerging applications of this technology in the food and allied industries. This article describes why eBeam technology is not a one-off technology but a platform that has varied applications in the food industry. The technology is already in widespread use in the medical device and pharmaceutical industries, where the sterility of devices and formulations must meet stringent specifications.
To understand eBeam technology, one has to understand the concept of ionizing and nonionizing radiation. Ionizing and nonionizing radiation are part of the electromagnetic spectrum that powers much of our technology. Radiation such as that generated in radio transmission towers, TV towers, microwaves, and UV bulbs is considered nonionizing radiation, because it does not have the energy to ionize the molecules it encounters. On the other hand, radiation emitted from X-ray tubes, eBeam linear accelerators, and radioactive isotopes such as cobalt-60 is much more energetic and can ionize the molecules it encounters. The food industry has a long and successful history with cobalt-60-based technology. Food irradiation is one of the most widely and deeply investigated food processing technologies, with over 100 years of research and development behind it. Irradiation with cobalt-60 is used to disinfect fresh produce, decontaminate spices, and pasteurize foods in the U.S. and in over 50 other countries. In the U.S., irradiation technology for the phytosanitary treatment of selected imported fruits is increasing exponentially (Figure 1).
eBeam technology is an example of ionizing radiation technology. However, that is where the similarity with conventional cobalt-60-based food irradiation technologies ends. Figuratively speaking, eBeam technology is the smartphone of today, while cobalt-60 technology is the rotary dial phone of yesteryear. Due to the increasing costs of acquiring, shipping, storing, and replenishing cobalt-60, the inability to switch off the radiation (from the cobalt-60 source), the slower processing throughputs and the security concerns associated with using radioactive isotopes, cobalt-60-based irradiation technology is being replaced by eBeam technology in different applications. The high commercial value of eBeam technology is that it is easier and less expensive to adopt than cobalt-60 and significantly faster. Moreover, eBeam is a switch-on/switch-off technology, which can be customized for different food industry applications. More important yet, there are no security concerns for this technology compared with cobalt-60-based irradiation technology. Another major difference between the two technologies is that in the case of eBeam irradiation, the radiation is made up of electrons, while in cobalt-60, the radiation consists of gamma radiation or photons.[1,2]
Basics of eBeam Technology
The device that generates eBeam radiation is termed the “accelerator.” In the accelerator, electrons from commercial electricity are accelerated to very high velocities (~ 99.999% of the speed of light), thereby gaining incredible energies of up to 10 million electron volts (MeV). These electrons are then allowed to penetrate the case-ready packages. Figure 2 is a schematic representation of an eBeam technology platform in use on a food production line. Broadly speaking, accelerators are customized according to the energy of the output electrons (in MeV) and the accelerator power (in kW) that will dictate the possible processing throughputs. There are different types of accelerators in terms of their engineering designs and their operating principles.[3,4] Regardless of energy and power, all accelerators perform the basic function of generating a planar stream of high-energy electrons. For the food industry, eBeam technology applications can be broadly categorized into high-energy (5–10 MeV) applications, medium-energy (1–5 MeV), and low-energy (0.1–1 MeV) applications. Each of these applications meets high-value niches in the food industry. The technology is commercially available and can be purchased off the shelf. Table 1 lists the different food industry applications for the low-, medium-, and high-energy accelerators.
Underlying Principles of Action of Energetic Electrons
The energetic electrons from the accelerator produce direct and indirect ionization effects. The direct effects occur when the energetic electrons encounter molecules in the food. During such interactions, ionization occurs (the electrons are ejected out of their orbital shells). These ejected electrons (which pick up a portion of the incoming electrons’ energy) cause similar ionization events on adjacent molecules until the electrons’ energy is finally dissipated. The effect of these ionization events depends on the molecules that are impacted. Since DNA is the largest biomolecule in any cell, it is the primary target for ionization events. Ionization of DNA causes numerous double-strand breaks in the DNA (i.e., “shredding” of the DNA molecules), which effectively inactivates the organism. If these organisms are microbial pathogens, these pathogens are inactivated (thereby ensuring food safety). If these targets are spoilage organisms, these spoilage organisms are inactivated (thereby preventing microbial spoilage, allowing for an extended shelf life). The indirect effects occur when the energetic electrons split water molecules. The splitting of water molecules generates a variety of small amounts of highly reactive but extremely short-lived free radicals such as hydroxyl radicals, hydrogen peroxide, hydrogen, hydrated electrons, and hydrated protons. These free radicals in turn cause extensive double-strand breaks in the DNA in the cells that also add to the inactivation of the organisms. It is difficult to quantify the relative damage caused by direct effects versus indirect effects; however, studies have shown that if the food is frozen, the vast majority of the damage is due to direct effects. Under frozen conditions, the free radicals formed can’t diffuse to neighboring molecules. All of this happens without any increase in the temperature of the target foods. Hence, eBeam processing is termed a nonthermal food processing technology.
D-10 Values, Log Reduction, and Nutrients
Dose is the amount of energy (measured in kilograys, kGy) that is applied to the target food for the specific application. The dose that is delivered to foods depends on the specific application and on the expected resistance of the target pathogen or spoilage organisms. The D-10 value is the dose required to achieve a 1-log reduction (90% reduction). A representative list of the D-10 values of different foodborne pathogens in different food matrices is available from the authors upon request. To achieve any desired log reduction, the eBeam dose used in commercial processing is calculated by multiplying the D-10 value by the required log reduction. Therefore, the technology is tunable to deliver any dose to achieve the necessary log reduction. The commercially used dose is optimized to achieve pathogen kill without changing any sensory or organoleptic characteristics of the food. Larger targets require a lower dose and therefore it takes less energy to inactivate bacterial pathogens as compared with viral pathogens. Damage to proteins and nutrients (including most vitamins) occurs at significantly higher doses than those used to achieve a 6-log reduction of key bacterial foodborne pathogens.
Unlike a traditional cobalt-60-based gamma process, eBeam technology is not an oxidization process. Because there is a large input of electrons with each dose, the process is more reduction than oxidation. Many of the oxidation effects observed with gamma irradiation are not applicable to eBeam processing. Moreover, since the eBeam process occurs much more rapidly than gamma irradiation does, the chances of sensory changes occurring in foods are also significantly lower. This difference in the process dwell time also adds to the positive features of eBeam processing. The sensitivity of the different nutrients also depends on the physical state (frozen or refrigerated) of the food. In a study evaluating the use of eBeam technology for pasteurization of raw milk, our lab demonstrated that even though vitamin B2 content decreased around 32 percent, the B2 content in the eBeam-pasteurized milk met all U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutritional guidelines. Furthermore, gas chromatographic olfactory analysis indicated that the eBeam process did not result in the development of off odors. These results imply that one cannot assume that the effects on nutrients are the same irrespective of whether eBeam or gamma technology is used.
Regulatory Framework for eBeam Technology Applications
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), USDA, European Union (EU), Brazil, China, India, and the Codex Alimentarius Commission consider eBeam technology equivalent to cobalt-60-based technology. In the United States, FDA has specified the eBeam doses at which specific foods can be processed for either pathogen control, microbial decontamination of spices, extension of shelf life, or phytosanitary treatment of fresh produce (Table 2). The technology can be specifically used for pasteurizing foods at high risk for pathogens such as meats, oysters, spinach, and lettuce. The primary difference between the U.S. regulations and, for example, the regulations in China and India, is that in the U.S., the technology is not allowed for cooked foods. Except for iceberg lettuce and spinach, eBeam technology is not permitted in the U.S. at pasteurization doses for fresh produce. In China and India, however, the technology is being used for cooked foods and fresh produce. Labeling requirements in the U.S. are quite different from what is required in the EU. Contrary to popular belief, the EU has approved the use of eBeam technology and other irradiation technologies for food processing. Although the primary focus of the application of this technology is for spices and food ingredients, poultry and other meat products are routinely pasteurized in the EU with eBeam technology. The volume of food irradiated in the EU is, however, significantly lower than the volume in the U.S.
Food Safety Applications
A number of papers report on the ability of eBeam processing to achieve significant reductions of microbial pathogens on a variety of foods.[7–10] There is no question regarding the efficacy of this technology. Commercial adoption of the technology by the retail food industry has been slow. However, the number of U.S. retailers using this technology for food safety applications is slowly increasing. For example, eBeam-irradiated ground beef is available from Schwan’s and Wegmans. What decision makers in the industry and especially their legal departments want to know is the cost-benefit metrics of adopting this technology. To this end, studies at the National Center for Electron Beam Research at Texas A&M University are using tools such as quantitative microbial risk assessment to quantify the reduction in potential infection risks when the technology is adopted. Research in our laboratories is generating information to enable food industry professionals to make risk-based decisions about this technology.[7–9]
Ensuring Availability of Chemical-Free Fresh Produce
Demand is increasing worldwide for a year-round supply of exotic fruits and vegetables. However, many countries are very protective of their agriculture due to the risk of accidental importation of agriculturally devastating insects and pests, and therefore regulate the entry and exit of agricultural commodities based on international standards. The technology of choice for many decades has been methyl bromide because of its effectiveness against insects, including spiders, mites, and nematodes, as well as fungi. However, the production of this chemical is heavily restricted due to its damaging effects on the ozone layer. It is also extremely dangerous in terms of occupational health and accidental exposure. To reduce methyl bromide use, the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has been permitting the use of vapor heat, hot water dips, and cold treatments as alternatives. However, most of these treatments impair fruit quality. As an alternative, USDA-APHIS has permitted the use of eBeam processing at phytosanitary/disinfestation doses (0.150–1 kGy). This technology is currently used for imported Mexican and Pakistani mangoes and other exotic fruits from Southeast Asia. The growing adoption of eBeam technology for disinfestation (phytosanitary treatment) by large U.S. retailers such as Walmart is making an impact on how the U.S. retail industry is adopting the technology.
This emerging high-value application is noteworthy from different perspectives. First, the ability to replace methyl bromide with a chemical-free technology such as eBeam will significantly reduce global use of methyl bromide. Methyl bromide use around the world is regulated by a number of international treaties such as the Montreal and Kyoto protocols. Since 2005, the production and use of methyl bromide has been stopped except for critical uses such as phytosanitary treatments. Therefore, having a methyl bromide alternative such as eBeam processing is of extremely high value to the U.S. and other countries. The commercially available eBeam technology can empower a number of nations around the world that were unable to export to large markets due to the lack of suitable phytosanitary treatment technologies. Second, the ability to reduce or eliminate methyl bromide use will have a significant effect on the occupational health of farmworkers involved in the processing and packaging of fruits for export. Third, technologies such as hot water dips (for mangoes especially) have a deleterious effect on their quality, because to withstand the hot water dip, the mangoes have to be harvested at a lower Brix level. This is in stark contrast to mangoes that can be harvested with a higher Brix content because the eBeam processing can be performed on riper fruits. This simple difference in the Brix content has a significant difference in the quality of the fruits. Unpublished data suggest that mangoes treated with eBeam doses can be stored for months under refrigerated conditions (without a perceptible loss in quality) compared with the hot-water-treated mangoes. This ability to extend the shelf life of mangoes has major ramifications in terms of reducing the shelf life losses, which in turn can reduce food waste. Therefore, it is evident how the use of eBeam technology to replace a chemical such as methyl bromide is of high value at both the macro- and microeconomic levels.
Eliminating Hydrogen Peroxide and Energy Savings during Aseptic Food Packaging
Aseptic packaging has been around in the food industry for about 70 years; in the U.S., the industry is estimated to be approximately a $3.5 billion business. The pivotal driver for this technology was FDA approval in 1981 of hydrogen peroxide as the sterilizing agent for the packaging material that comes into contact with the food in question. Today, there are over 500 commercial aseptic packaging systems and they all involve hydrogen peroxide. Low-energy eBeam technology is an ideal replacement for hydrogen peroxide. With eBeam sterilization of the packaging material, there is no need to use hydrogen peroxide, nor is there any need for heat to dissipate the hydrogen peroxide. Moreover, from an occupational standpoint, the workers are not exposed to this toxic chemical. The use of a low-energy eBeam-generating device allows this technology to be integrated in-line into the aseptic process line (Figure 3). There is now a commercially offered aseptic packaging system with an integrated eBeam sterilizing system. According to company estimates, there has been 80 percent less energy consumption for sterilization, a 40 percent reduction in the carbon dioxide footprint, and 33 percent less electrical power consumption. These savings are of high value to a commercial entity that puts a premium on reducing chemicals in foods, reducing the carbon footprint, ensuring sustainable practices, and improving worker safety.
The Myth of Consumer Resistance to eBeam and Other Irradiation Technologies
There are anecdotes that consumers are resistant to accepting irradiated (eBeam or gamma) foods in the marketplace. The word “irradiation” and the Radura symbol are supposedly problematic to the consumers. However, empirical data on the growing volumes of irradiated fresh produce in the U.S. market over the last 5 years reflect the opposite (Figure 1). Studies reveal that consumers are willing to pay an additional 5–25 cents per pound for microbiologically safe ground beef. Not one irradiated food item has been recalled from the market due to consumer concerns. Importantly, studies show that scientifically valid information on the technology and the benefits of eBeam irradiation can make a profound change in consumers’ perception of the technology and a willingness to purchase an eBeam-irradiated food item. Today, irradiated raw oysters, spices, ground beef, mangoes, and guavas are widely available in the U.S. The growing availability of such items in retail markets in the U.S. is a testimony to the growing adoption of the technology by the industry and growing consumer willingness to purchase irradiated foods.
In closing, eBeam technology is a platform technology that has a number of applications in the food industry. The capital costs of eBeam systems are decreasing because of the advances in the technology and the growing use of eBeam technology in different industries. It behooves the decision makers in the food industry to get a deep understanding of this technology so that it can be harnessed to eliminate microbial pathogens, extend the shelf life of foods or expand the export/import of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as meat products.
Suresh D. Pillai, Ph.D., is the director of the National Center for Electron Beam Research. He brings together researchers from across the Texas A&M University System and around the world to harness their skills to make paradigm-shifting changes in how we address contemporary food, public-health and environmental challenges. He is a molecular microbiologist by training and has been with the Texas A&M University System for over 25 years. His research program focuses on molecular microbiology as it relates to food processing, food safety and environmental microbiology. In addition, his research focuses on the detection, characterization, and decontamination of microbial populations in natural and man-made ecosystems using a variety of contemporary tools such as genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, and metabolomics.
Sohini S. Bhatia is a graduate researcher at the National Center for Electron Beam Research at Texas A&M University. As a microbiologist, her research has focused on the effects of high-energy electron beam irradiation on stress responses of enteric bacteria. Her current focus is the use of high-energy electron beam irradiation for veterinary vaccine development. The National Center for Electron Beam Research, an IAEA Collaborating Centre for Electron Beam Technology for Food, Health and Environmental Applications, is the leading academic and research organization in the world focused on the research, development, and commercialization of electron beam technologies.
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