FoodHACCP Newsletter

Food Safety Job Openings

09/07. Safety and Quality Assurance - Hershey, PA
09/07. FS, Q, & Regulatory Manager - Fort Morgan, CO
09/06. QA Manager – Los Angeles, CA
09/05. 2019 Ldrship Dev Program, FS&Q - Denver, CO
09/05. FSQA Coordinator - Milford, IA
09/05. FSQA Manager - Inver Grove Heights, MN
09/03. Corp Dir of FS & QA - Shawnee Mission, KS
09/03. FS & Brand Std Specialist - Redwood City, CA
09/03. A Shift – FS&QA Lab Technician - Sioux City, IA

09/10  2018 ISSUE:825


Hurricane food supplies, safety tips to keep in mind
Source :
By Lauren DelgadoContact Reporter Orlando Sentinel (Sep 10, 2018)
As several hurricanes churn away in the Atlantic Ocean, it’s a good idea to recheck those hurricane supplies — and recall some food safety rules to implement during and after a power outage.
I gathered the following tips and information from, the USDA, and the FDA.
Hurricane food supplies
Keep a three-day supply of nonperishable foods for every one in your household — including pets. Foods can include canned meats, vegetables and fruits; protein and cereal bars; peanut butter; and dried fruit. Grab some comfort foods too — like a package of cookies.
Keep a three-day supply of water on hand for every one in your household (including pets) in addition to some water for washing dishes. If hard skinned fruits are in your hurricane supplies, make sure to have them washed, dried and placed in containers or resealable plastic bags.
Don’t forget a can opener.
Consider getting a refrigerator thermometer for a more accurate read on the appliance’s temperature.
Freeze containers of water to help keep the freezer, refrigerator or coolers chilled.
Recipes to eat well without cooking after the storm »
During a power outage
Keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed. An unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours. A full unopened freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full).
Only use your grill outdoors, placed well away from your home and low hanging branches. Pets and children should be kept away from the grill — which should never be unattended when on.
Before you use your gas (propane) grill: Ensure the connection points between the tank hose and the regulator and cylinder, and where the hose connects to the burners is tight. Check the gas tank hose for leaks. If you smell gas while cooking, evacuate the grilling area and call the fire department. For charcoal grills: If using a start fluid, use only fluid designed for charcoal (NOT gas). Never add starter fluid to the fire itself or to coals that have already been lit. Cool the coals completely after grilling — and dispose in a metal container.
Before you use your gas (propane) grill: Ensure the connection points between the tank hose and the regulator and cylinder, and where the hose connects to the burners is tight. Check the gas tank hose for leaks. If you smell gas while cooking, evacuate the grilling area and call the fire department. For charcoal grills: If using a start fluid, use only fluid designed for charcoal (NOT gas). Never add starter fluid to the fire itself or to coals that have already been lit. Cool the coals completely after grilling — and dispose in a metal container.
After a power outage
Discard perishable food in the refrigerator that has been above 40 °F for over 2 hours. This includes raw or leftover cooked meat, poultry, fish, or seafood, lunch meats, milk, soft cheeses, cut fresh fruits and fresh eggs. For a full list of foods to discard, visit
Evaluate freezer items. If the freezer is at 40 °F or below, the food is safe and can be refrozen. If the food’s package still has ice crystals on it, it also can be refrozen. Check out this USDA website for item by item determinations. »
Never taste food to determine if it’s “still good.” You can’t rely on odor either. Stick with numbers: Throw out perishables that have been above 40 °F for over 2 hours.
If a boil-water alert is issued and the power is still out, you can disinfect water (removing most but not all pathogens) by placing eight drops (1/8th teaspoon) of unscented liquid household bleach per gallon.

Food Safety Scares Are Up In 2018. Here's Why You Shouldn't Freak Out
Source :
By ALLISON AUBREY (Sep 10, 2018)
Matt Arteaga, 51, is one of about 500 people who got sick this summer in an outbreak linked to McDonald's salads. The cause was a parasite, cyclospora.
Arteaga fell ill on a Thursday afternoon in June. He was in his office in Danville, Ill., when he says the symptoms came on quickly. "The chills, and body aches, severe cramping, sharp pain in my stomach," Arteaga recalls.
After a test revealed he was infected with cyclospora, his case was reported to the Illinois Department of Public Health. At about the same time, there was "an uptick in reports of cyclospora that were being submitted to us," the director of the department, Dr. Nirav Shah, told us.
To figure out what the source of the cyclospora might be, health department investigators asked Arteaga — and others who'd gotten sick — to make a list of every food they'd eaten before they fell ill. Arteaga says he used bank records to jog his memory.
"I pay with my debit card all the time. [I] just went through every restaurant [transaction] in the two weeks prior to getting sick," he recalls. "I had a salad at McDonald's three times."
When many of the others sickened by cyclospora also reported they'd eaten salads at the chain, Shah says his department took action. They notified the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other public health agencies in nearby states.
"We got on the phone with McDonald's and advised them of what we recommended, and made sure we notified the public immediately," Shah says.
McDonald's halted sales of salads at about 3,000 locations until it could switch to a different lettuce supplier. An FDA analysis confirmed the presence of cyclospora in an unused package of lettuce that had been distributed to to the chain.
So, is this a success story? An example of quick coordination and detective work by public health agencies to identify and halt an outbreak before it grew bigger? Or, is it evidence of the risks that exist in the food supply?
It's both.
Twenty years ago, this outbreak may have been hidden. "It's unlikely we would have detected this outbreak, because the test that doctors use to diagnose cyclospora wasn't even approved by the FDA until May of 2014," Shah told us.
Back then, Arteaga and others may have chalked up their sicknesses to a stomach bug and moved on. Earlier tests for cyclospora were more complicated and less reliable. And testing for cyclospora wasn't automatic — a clinician had to suspect the parasite and specifically request testing for it. What's more, older testing methods required visual inspection of a stool sample, and sometimes multiple stool specimens, to find the parasite.
Today, the tests yield quick results — within an hour or two — and can detect many common pathogens at once.
"Technology has been a game changer for foodborne outbreaks," Shah says.
So, perhaps not surprisingly, diagnoses of cyclospora are up. In Illinois, there were 47 cases in 2017, compared with just two cases in 2012.
"We're now in a situation where people know, if I go to my doctor I can get tested, I can get a diagnosis," Shah says. And when these foodborne illnesses are reported to health authorities, "we can actually link up what's going on."
In addition to better testing for pathogens, detection of outbreaks has improved, too. "We've seen a great advance in the methodologies that we use for detecting foodborne outbreaks," says Edward Dudley, an associate professor of food science at Penn State.
He points to the use of a technique known as whole genome sequencing to help detect a listeria outbreak linked to Blue Bell brand ice cream.
"There were only 10 individuals that were ever linked to the outbreak. The first one became ill in 2010 and the last one [became ill] in 2015," explains Dudley.
So, how did scientists figure out these 10 cases were all connected to Blue Bell's ice cream products? After all, there were hundreds of other cases of listeria sicknesses from other foods during that time period.
Whole genome sequencing allows scientists to produce high-resolution DNA fingerprints of the organisms under investigation.
"The advantage of whole genome sequencing is that it gives us a lot more information when we're trying to tell whether an organism we isolate from a food is the same exact [organism] that we isolate from the individuals who became ill," says Dudley. In outbreaks, scientists are looking for a direct match.
Older technology gives only a few dozen data points, Dudley says. "Whereas whole genome sequencing is giving us 4 to 5 million pieces of data" to make the match.
With Improved Detection Comes Perception of More Risk
So, this takes us back to a key question. Since we tend to hear more about foodborne illness outbreaks, there's a perception that the risk has gone up. But, is our food supply any more or less safe than it used to be? All the experts I spoke with had similar answers.
"There's really no evidence that our food supply is more unsafe than it has been in the past," Dudley told us.
This view is echoed by Nirav Shah. "Our food system today is probably the safest it's even been in history of the United States," he told us.
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has weighed in as well. In a statement last June he wrote, "We believe food is safer than perhaps ever before." He went on: "What's happening is that our ability to identify outbreaks has dramatically improved due to new information technologies and laboratory techniques."
So, though it may seem like a paradox, even as the CDC investigates lots of multi-state outbreaks, by many accounts our food supply is no less safe.
Another thing that adds to the perception of risk: We hear about recalls — even when they're not linked to illness. Take for example, the recent Goldfish cracker recall. In this case there were no sicknesses linked to the cracker. However, the manufacturer of an ingredient used in some varieties of Goldfish found salmonella in its facility. So, Pepperidge Farm, out of an abundance of caution, voluntarily recalled four varieties of Goldfish crackers.
Another example: Kraft Heinz recalled its Taco Bell brand of queso from stores because of a risk of botulism. No illnesses were linked to the product, but jars showed signs of separation, which could create the conditions for the bacteria that causes botulism to grow.
When you look at the overall number of people getting sick from foodborne illness in the U.S., it's relatively stable. From year to year, the numbers vary some, but "the overall picture is that we're not seeing a large increase in the number of people getting sick," says Matt Wise of the CDC's outbreak response and prevention branch.
At the same time, there seems to be an increase in outbreaks this year.
"You can't question that this year's been a, sort of, bumper year. We've had a lot of outbreaks that have been detected and investigated," says Wise. "So, we'll have to wait and see whether this becomes a new normal, or whether this just happened to be a blip on the radar."
And, of course, there's still plenty of room for improvement when it comes to food safety. The CDC estimates that about 1 in 6 people get a foodborne illnesses each year. That equates to millions of sicknesses.
In the meantime, Matt Arteaga says the cyclospora infection took its toll. His GI distress lasted for weeks. He has hired a lawyer who is considering legal action.





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Four food premises closed in August for breaches of food safety legislation
Source :
By (Sep 10, 2018)
Four food premises were issued with Closure Orders for breaches of food safety legislation last month.
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) today reported that two premises in Meath and one each in Louth and Wexford were ordered to close after failing to reach food safety standards.
Some of the reasons for the closures include: raw and cooked food not being separated, waste being transported in the same container as raw and cooked food and the water supply being unfit for human consumption and posing a serious risk to public health.
Other reasons given were no date of minimum durability for highly perishable foods which were supplied to another food business, failure to provide written information of any allergens in food at the point of supply, no running hot water supply for cleaning hands, washing food, or for cleaning and disinfecting working utensils and equipment and poor cleaning throughout the premises.
Here are the list of orders issued for August:
Four Closure Orders were served under the EC (Official Control of Foodstuffs) Regulations, 2010 Acto on:
Riverview Takeaway, Unit B, Molloys Building, Merchants Quay, Drogheda, Louth. Closed activity: handling of raw kebab meat and raw chicken.
Lotus, 70 South Main Street, Wexford. Closed activity: supply of food to any other business.
O’Brien’s, Johnstown Village, Johnstown, Navan, Meath. Closed activity: food business except the public bar area serving beverages in disposable containers. All water incorporated into drinks or ice to be brought in from a potable supply.
Pizza Point, Main Street, Dunshaughlin, Meath.
Commenting on today's report, Dr Pamela Byrne, Chief Executive of the FSAI, said: “It is essential for food businesses to have a strong food safety culture in their business, which can be achieved through ongoing staff training.
"Food businesses need to comply with the law and there are no excuses for failure to do so. Food safety inspectors are continuing to encounter basic errors being made by food businesses which are easily avoidable.”
“Closure Orders are served on food businesses only when a risk to consumer health has been identified or where there are a number of ongoing breaches of food legislation, and that largely tends to relate to serious and grave hygiene or other operational issues.
"These Closure Orders indicate that not all food businesses are complying with the law and as a result, are potentially putting consumers’ health at serious risk.”
Further information on the Enforcement Orders is published on the FSAI’s website at

Food safety: New service to enhance culture and behavior
Source :
By (Sep 06, 2018)
Instinctif Partners is launching a service designed to enhance food safety culture, which puts driving cultural and individual behavioral change in food manufacturing at the core and helps food manufacturers meet the food safety culture challenge set out in the newly-published BRC Global Food Safety Standard Issue 8 (BRC8).
This standard places a strong emphasis on developing food safety and quality culture, meaning food manufacturing businesses subject to their first audit under the new Standard from next February, are facing a new challenge.
“BRC8 specifies that senior management ‘shall define and maintain a clear plan for the development and continuous improvement of food safety and quality culture,’” says Victoria Cross, Head of Instinctif Partners’ Business Resilience Practice.
“Having a strong food safety culture is central to preventing product recalls. With the root cause of many food safety issues being human error, the focus has to be on people and cultural and behavioral change.”
Inspiring people to do the right things at the right time is key to creating a food safety culture – and is an essential part of the new Instinctif Partners’ service.
“Our offering has been developed in partnership with Carrie Birmingham, a leading expert in culture change and employee psychology, and leading food research and technology organization Campden BRI, and will be delivered in collaboration with a team of senior food industry experts with decades of hands-on manufacturing experience,” Cross continues.
“Together we focus on inspiring people to do the right things at the right time – not because they have to but because they want to.”
The Enhancing Food Safety Culture service asks:
- Do your leaders inspire and reward the right food safety behaviors?
- Are your first-line supervisors leading by example – or avoiding issues?
- Are your operatives motivated to do the right thing – or just going through the motions? - Do you have a culture of learning from near misses – or hoping for the best?
- Has human error ever caused a food safety incident?
“You can’t force change in people, but you can inspire it; creating a culture which not only enhances food safety but which also helps businesses become more resilient,” adds Cross.
An article on Instinctif Partners’ strategy for developing food safety and quality culture is published in the September issue of The World of Food Ingredients.
To contact our editorial team please email us at

Cilantro From U.S. and Mexico Test Positive for Cyclospora Parasite
Source :
By Staff (Sep 05, 2018)
Cilantro From U.S. and Mexico Test Positive for Cyclospora Parasite
Since 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been trying a new approach to produce sampling to assess microbial contamination in food commodities. The approach involves collecting a statistically-valid number of samples of targeted foods over a 12-18 month period, then identifying common microbial factors among them.
For fiscal year 2018, FDA had already been sampling fresh herbs, specifically basil, parsley, and cilantro, along with processed avocado and guacamole--all from both domestic and imported sources. The fresh herbs were chosen for sampling because they are eaten without having gone through any type of kill step (ie. cooking) to reduce or eliminate pathogens. Also, these items are grown low to the ground, which makes them susceptible to contamination. Initially, the sampling was to measure the prevalence of Salmonella and Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) in these herbs.
Recently, FDA added a new test to this sampling group: Cyclospora cayetanensis. The agency has a new analytical testing method for this parasite. Also, Cyclospora has caused outbreaks in the U.S. linked to imported produce, including basil and cilantro. According to FDA, although it is unknown exactly how food and water become contaminated with Cyclospora, prior outbreaks have been associated with produce grown under unsanitary conditions.
So far, two samples of cilantro that were to be imported from two different Mexico-based producers tested positive for Cyclospora. Due to these findings, FDA did not allow these cilantro shipments into the U.S. The agency also plans to take further action to prevent contaminated cilantro from those producers from entering the U.S. Both the U.S. and Mexico are working together to investigate the cause of the contamination, an effort made possible under the FDA Produce Safety Partnership with Mexico.
Contamination was detected on domestic produce as well. In July, a cilantro sample collected at the distribution level tested positive for Cyclospora. FDA then collected a positive sample from the farm in question.
This is the first confirmed evidence of Cyclospora in domestic produce, says FDA.
FDA did work with the farm and health officials to voluntarily recall any potentially affected products, and corrective actions were handed down to the farm. At this time, there is no evidence that this instance of Cyclospora contamination is in any way connected to any other U.S. outbreaks that have occurred over the last few months.
Other foods the U.S. has sampled thus far include sprouts, whole fresh avocados, raw milk cheese, cucumbers, and hot peppers.

DRIVE-Safe Act Can Help Keep Food Moving across America’s Highways,Safely
Source :
By Jon Eisen (Sep 04, 2018)
DRIVE-Safe Act Can Help Keep Food Moving across America’s Highways,Safely
Whether sitting down to eat at a favorite local restaurant or grabbing a meal on the go at a chain, the foodservice distribution industry is there making it happen. American consumers, our nation’s restaurants, and food retailers all depend on us.
Our industry takes great pride in making sure shelves are stocked and customers are served, and getting foods from point A to point B efficiently and timely wouldn’t be possible without our highly skilled and trained drivers. This is why the current nationwide shortage of truck drivers is so troubling. Many of the truck drivers we have been counting on over the years to transport goods across the country are retiring. According to the American Trucking Associations, the shortage could surpass 63,000 drivers by the end of the year. That number is expected to increase over the next decade to 890,000 drivers, just to keep up with growth and demand for freight transportation. This poses serious implications for our nation’s food supply chain, which requires the timely delivery of hundreds of thousands of products each day.
Fortunately, there is a bipartisan bill making its way through Congress that can turn this trend around while offering a pathway for a new generation of drivers to enter this industry safely and with the skills they need to operate a truck in the 21st century. The Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy Act, or the DRIVE-Safe Act (H.R. 5358), was introduced in Congress on March 21, 2018. This vital piece of legislation is quickly gaining traction from members on both sides of the aisle with more than 70 co-sponsors in the House and counting. It’s easy to see why this bill has bipartisan support. It’s a win-win for growing our economy and providing 18- to 21-year-olds with good, high-paying jobs that don’t require a college degree.
Recruiting young talent to the trucking industry has been particularly challenging. However, a job as a foodservice distribution delivery driver pays well above the average wage for a U.S. worker—more than $63,000 annually versus approximately $50,000 for all U.S. workers. With a competitive salary and room for advancement within the industry, a career in freight transportation can help skilled young adults enter the workforce without having to worry about paying off college debt.
The DRIVE-Safe Act fixes a technicality in existing laws that allow individuals in most states to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL) at age 18 but prevents them from engaging in interstate commerce until they turn 21. This means a 19-year-old truck driver can drive a shipment from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs, CO, a four and a half hour roundtrip, but cannot drive that same shipment to Cheyenne, WY, a mere 45 minutes away.
The DRIVE-Safe Act isn’t just a jobs bill. At its core, it’s a safety program that will train tomorrow’s drivers above and beyond current standards so they are prepared once they hit the road. Under this bill, a driver under the age of 21 must first meet the requirements necessary to obtain a CDL. Once this happens, the driver needs to complete a rigorous, two-step program that involves at least 400 hours of on-duty time and 240 hours of driving time with an experienced driver in the cab with them. He or she must demonstrate core competencies in driving and maneuvering skills according to 12 performance benchmarks before being allowed to drive across state lines without supervision.
All trucks used for training in the program must be equipped with leading safety technologies, including forward-facing video event capture, active braking collision mitigation systems, and a speed governor not to exceed 65 miles per hour.
The International Foodservice Distributors Association and American Trucking Associations have backed the DRIVE-Safe Act from the beginning. In June 2018, we were joined in our commitment by more than forty industry groups, including the American Beverage Association, National Council of Chain Restaurants, National Grocers Association, and National Restaurant Association. Together, we drafted and submitted a letter to Rep. Bill Shuster, Chair and Rep. Peter DeFazio, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure urging them to address the truck driver shortage and pass this common-sense legislation.
In August, we were met with more support from Congress as U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-IN), Jerry Moran (R-KS), and James M. Inhofe (R-OK) introduced the Senate companion bill of the DRIVE-Safe Act (S.3352) on August 16, 2018.
Each day, the foodservice distribution industry delivers food and supplies to over one million professional kitchens across the country. We are responsible for keeping these businesses cooking. The country’s current truck driver shortage has the potential to hit the foodservice distribution industry hard. With drivers in limited supply, wait times for deliveries will go up and the cost to get food and supplies delivered safely and on-time will increase, too. These costs will hit the pocketbooks of American businesses and consumers alike—from chefs purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables for their daily menus to customers enjoying a meal at their favorite restaurant.
With some 225 million meals consumed outside the home every day in the U.S. alone, the role of drivers in the foodservice distribution industry is more important than ever. The DRIVE-Safe Act will create good paying jobs for the emerging workforce while reinforcing a culture of safety. It will preserve the economy and efficiency of our nation’s food supply chain by keeping our nation’s freight on the move. And it will ensure the safety of our highways and roads by giving a new generation of drivers the skills they need to operate a truck in the 21st century.
The DRIVE-Safe Act is common-sense legislation we can all get behind. Now is the time for Congress to act and swiftly enact this legislation so we can keep moving, safely, across the country.

September is food safety month
Source :
By Megan McNeil(Sep 05, 2018)
September is food safety month, and Mesa County Public Health is using this month to tell people how important food safety is.
They're inspecting restaurants around the county, looking for employees washing their hands, temperatures for food are correct and that foods aren't cross-contaminated.
Mesa County has a few restaurants recognized as partners for food safety. It means these restaurants go above and beyond to make sure their food is safe, with written procedures and food safety managers. 90 percent of their food handlers have to be trained in a food safety program.
"When food is not handled properly in a facility people can become sick, and I think that's something that a lot of people forget what a serious situation can arise if food isn't held or handled safely,” said Heather Nara, health inspector for Mesa County.
Follow the links on the side of the article to see what your favorite restaurants have scored on their inspections and to see the restaurants listed as partners with Mesa County.

Updated food safety guidelines available for tomato supply chain
Source :
By Tom Karst (Sep 05, 2018)
The third edition of the Commodity Specific Food Safety Guidelines for the Fresh Tomato Supply Chain has been released.
Commonly called the Tomato Guidelines, a news release from United Fresh Produce Association said the document provides a good foundation for an upcoming refresh of the Tomato Metrics, a suite of audit standards specific to growing and packing tomatoes.
“United Fresh members asked that the guidelines be reviewed in light of evolving science, practices, and regulations,” Jennifer McEntire, vice president of food safety and technology at United Fresh, said in the release. “There was keen interest in this process, with over 40 individuals representing the entirety of the tomato supply chain contributing to the update.”
The release said the guidelines outline recommendations all parts of the supply chain, including outdoor and greenhouse growing to harvesting, field packing, packinghouse operations, repacking, fresh-cut operations through to retail and foodservice.
Key changes to the document compared with the previous edition include recommendations around field packing, antimicrobial use and wash water monitoring, and re-use of cartons. The guidelines also refer to applicable provisions of the Produce Safety Rule in the context of fresh tomato practices.
“Food safety is a journey that’s shaped by experience and research,” Suresh De Costa, director of food safety at Lipman Family Farms, a contributor to the guidelines, said in the release. “The updated version will continue to serve as a key food safety reference for the industry that will help enhance food safety practices.”
The Tomato Guidelines can be downloaded for no charge at Now available in English, the document is expected to be translated to Spanish in the coming months, according to the release.
Contact Emily Griep, United Fresh’s Manager of Food Safety at 202-303-3401, for questions about the document.

Remind yourself of these food-safety tips
Source :
By Lauren DelgadoContact Reporter (Sep 5,2 018)
Healthy kitchen habits should be practiced throughout the year — but National Food Safety month in September is a good time to remind ourselves of the methods to keep our kitchen and food free of illness-causing bacteria. Here are a few that I found on
While you’re prepping
Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water before, during and after cooking — and before eating.
Thaw food in the refrigerator, in cold water or in the microwave — not on the counter.
Keep cutlery, plates, cutting boards and other implements for raw meats and vegetables separate.
Marinate foods in the refrigerator — and don’t use any leftover marinade.
Before you finish cooking
145F is the minimum internal temperature whole cuts of beef, pork, veal, lamb, as well as fin fish should reach.
160F is the minimum internal temperature ground meats, such as beef and pork, should reach.
165F is the minimum internal temperature all poultry, including ground chicken, turkey, leftovers and casseroles should reach.
For the leftovers
Set your refrigerator to 40F.
Perishable food needs to be refrigerated within two hours. If the food is sitting out in 90-plus degrees, the dish can only be left out for 1 hour.
Don’t taste a food to see if it’s spoiled. Visit for a full list of storage times.

Five Tips for Choosing a Food Laboratory
Source :
By Charlie Kalish (Sep 4, 2018)
Five Tips for Choosing a Food Laboratory
With U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations, Global Food Safety Initiative-benchmarked schemes, and customers demanding microbiological and chemical testing on foods and surfaces, the demand for high quality, reliable laboratory services is surging. Yet not all labs are the same, so how do you determine which lab is best for your business? Here are five tips to get you started.
Tip #1: Use an Accredited Laboratory
The ISO standard used by food laboratories providing testing and/or calibration services is ISO/IEC 17025:2017 (just recently was updated from ISO/IEC 17025:2005). Ask prospective laboratories if they are accredited to this standard. You can learn more about the standard on the ISO website and on the websites of the accreditation bodies that accredit the laboratories, such as A2LA and ANAB. (These websites of the accreditation bodies are also useful to search a specific lab’s accreditation status and scope, such as when their accreditation expires.)
ISO accreditation is one way businesses provide assurance to other businesses (and reassure themselves) that they are operating in accordance with a globally recognized standard, are competent and reliable. But accreditation does not a guarantee that all entities accredited under the same standard are equal. Some recommend ISO accreditation as a minimum standard, a starting point. I see it as one more important puzzle piece in evaluating a lab’s fit for your business.
Tip #2: Seek Recommendations from Peers
If you want to know details about the day-to-day realities of working with a food lab, talk to your peers. Word tends to get around if a lab engages in shady practices, is difficult to work with, or repeatedly fails to deliver on its services. Of course, if a colleague says, “You should use this lab, they’re so cheap and turnaround is so fast!”, you should question why samples are so cheap and so fast. You should also factor into your analysis the colleague’s knowledge, experience, and overall credibility.
When reaching out to colleagues, here are a few questions you should ask:
•    How long have you been working with Lab X?
•    How did you start working with them?
•    Have you used other labs?
•    Why do you prefer Lab X over the others?
•    How responsive is Lab X to urgent questions/requests?
•    Does Lab X deliver on its stated turnaround time?
•    Do you know anyone else that is using Lab X?
In summary, seek recommendations, but take them with a grain of salt.
Tip #3: Know Your Needs
Food labs geared toward large-scale businesses with experienced, on-staff microbiologists generally assume you know what you are looking for, are familiar with lab lingo, and make less effort to explain results. The result: a more transactional relationship, which is great if you’re a food microbiologist. If you’re not, you may be surprised by how cryptic lab communications can be. Ask colleagues if the lab they use communicates effectively in laymen terms. I also recommend pinning down the services you need before contacting the laboratory.
Need help figuring out what services you need? Contact a university’s Extension specialist or hire a consultant prior to contacting the lab to identify which pathogens/indicator organisms you will want to test for, how frequently you will test, sample specifications, acceptable vs. actionable test results, etc. University Extension programs exist to support industry and provide answers to hundreds if not thousands of food businesses across the U.S. Extension programs are generally more affordable than consultants, but consultants can be well worth the money. Choose the solution that makes most sense for your business.
Tip #4: Set a Budget
Just like any operational or capital expense, sampling and testing will have an impact on your company’s bottom line. This brings us to Tip #4: Factor costs associated with sampling and laboratory services into your business plan and create a budget.

Estimates can be made quickly and easily with the Food Safety Guides free PEM Calculator (Figure 1). Simply input the number of swabs you plan on testing for each applicable pathogen/indicator organism, enter the fees charged by your prospective laboratory for each test, and the PEM Calculator handles the rest!
Be aware that in addition to the cost of materials (e.g., swabs) and shipping costs (swabs submitted to a laboratory are generally shipped overnight), additional costs could result from:
•    Follow-up testing to confirm a presumptive positive (labs have a rate for this)
•    Multiplication of follow-up testing in response to a presumptive positive found in a composite swab, which is a single swab used to collect samples from multiple swab sites
•    Multiplication of follow-up testing beyond an original swab site(s) to locate the source of a confirmed positive (this can be a very expensive and frightening goose chase)
Composite sampling can be cost-effective if performed strategically (typically low risk surfaces, such as zones 3 and 4) and in tandem with robust sanitation program, Good Manufacturing Practices, etc. But if the swab returns a positive result, it is impossible to know the exact swab site(s) where the pathogen/indicator organism was detected. To locate the source of the positive, each swab site would need to be sampled individually, multiplying the cost.
Be prepared to spend money and know that your sampling strategy (e.g., composite vs individual site sampling) and the health of your food safety system will have a significant impact on cost. The goal of sampling and testing should always be to detect a positive, if a positive exists. Avoiding vulnerable swabs sites, foods/ingredients, or testing methods does not save money, but increases liability and in the long run can be substantially more expensive, not to mention harmful to public health and a company’s brand and bottom line.
Tip #5: Have a Recall Plan before You Test
As indicated in Tip #4, detecting a positive in one’s processing environment or in a food can result in serious costs, not to mention a public health emergency, a recall, and anxiety about the survival of one’s business. For example, a positive for Listeria spp. on a nonfood contact surface could lead to discovering a systemic problem involving Listeria monocytogenes on food (this just happened to someone I know). Similarly, a false positive could send your team through loops about what actions need to be taken and when. Should you report the positive to FDA right away? Tell your customers? Or do you wait for confirmation from the lab? If confirmed positive, can you tell which product was affected? Do you have practices, processes and/or records that can pinpoint which products were (and were not) potentially affected by the incident? How do you communicate to customers and the public that only certain products were affected and not others? These are only a small sampling (no pun intended) of the dozens are hard questions you could face after detecting a positive.
A team should know exactly what course of action to take in the event of a “presumptive positive” (i.e., an initial positive test result before it is confirmed to be positive through follow up testing). Conducting pathogen testing (particularly on foods and food contact surfaces) without having a recall plan in place is like stumbling through a mine field.
The diagram from FDA’s Draft Guidance for Industry “Control of Listeria monocytogenes in Ready-To-Eat Foods,” (Figure 2) provides a glimpse into the kind of follow up FDA expects when testing food contact surfaces (FCS) for Listeria spp. I recommend having a flow diagram for every potential scenario and familiarizing yourself with local, state and federal requirements regarding recalls. Contact your regional FDA recall and state recall coordinators, take a class, and talk to a university Extension specialist or consultant. Someday, you may be grateful you did.
Do your due diligence and remember: Working with a laboratory is an investment and like all things in life, planning ahead can save you a world of headache. Testing plays a vital role in food safety systems by revealing things we cannot see and, at times, telling us things we may have never wanted to hear. The path forward requires that we do our best, be honest with ourselves, to our customers and consumers, and that the laboratory we choose to work with reflect those commitments.
Charlie Kalish is managing member of Food Safety Guides, a progressive food safety and quality systems consulting firm that specializes in FSMA compliance, HACCP, third-party audit preparation and food safety and quality plan development. He is also senior director for food safety at UC San Diego Extension and a Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance Lead Instructor for human and animal food.

The World Is Changing and So Must Your Food Safety Expectations
Source :
By Charlean Gmunder and Bill Cunningham, M.B.A.
The World Is Changing  and So Must Your Food Safety Expectations
In today’s manufacturing environment, significant challenges face professionals in instituting a food safety culture. Environmental factors such as socioeconomic issues and demographic shifts are transforming the food manufacturing landscape. A robust merger-and-acquisition (M&A) atmosphere, given the current economic situation, has a dynamic impact on business today. In addition, the zero-based budget (ZBB) focus brought on by the arrival of 3G Capital’s food industry acquisitions has changed how many companies view their expenditures and their business. Simultaneously, changing demographics have impacted the industry, with the shift in the labor market that has changed who the typical manufacturing worker is, for example, multiple generations including millennials and immigrant workers, and what the perspective is on the relationship between the employer and the employed. These challenges should be examined to understand how they will mandate a change to the way you lead your company to adjust and evaluate its approach to changing and sustaining a food safety culture. We will examine each of these challenges and how they impact a food company’s food safety expectations (Figure 1) and bring forward activities with examples for how to adapt your company’s food safety expectations in this changing world.
Mergers and Acquisitions
When we study the socioeconomic forces, the food industry is undergoing a transformational change with the intense amount of M&As that have taken place over the last several years. Stout Advisory, a leading valuation advisory and management consulting firm, reports that M&A activity in the food and beverage industry has seen about 300 transactions annually over the last few years, with “strong food & beverage industry M&A activity continued in the third quarter of 2017.”[1] This type of vigorous movement has shaken up the food industry and continues to influence actions within the industry. As these events occur, professionals within food companies must decipher the needs of a changing business and integrate differing company cultures to ensure a food safety culture suitable for the combined corporation. Frequently, the various components of a newly formed corporation have vastly different views of roles, responsibilities, and, most importantly, norms of behavior. This requires a professional to determine what the corporation’s new standards will be and to initiate change management processes to institute the new norms—very often alienating those who were closely tied to the old set of values. This requires a professional to recognize the need for creating a strong, harmonized food safety culture while tactfully navigating through a set of disparate norms, behaviors, and values.
Another perilous minefield to traverse is the “3G impact” on the food industry. 3G Capital is a well-known global investment firm that has purchased several large food and beverage companies such as Heinz, Kraft, Anheuser-Busch, Burger King, and Tim Hortons. It has impacted the food industry through its focus on relentless cost cutting and the introduction of zero-based budgeting.[2] When a company has been acquired by 3G, as Daniel Roberts at Fortune magazine described it, the 3G impact includes “widespread layoffs, lower budgets, new levels of austerity, and a shift in the corporate culture.” This “3G impact” includes zero-based budgeting, a process for creating those lower budgets, “wherein every expense must be newly justified every year, not just new ones, and the goal is to bring it lower than the year prior.”[3] The influence that 3G has had on the food industry has significantly impacted views on food safety, particularly as it concerns roles and responsibilities, as well as budget for head count and training. While adhering to new requirements to scrutinize every expenditure, professionals must simultaneously work to create and sustain a food safety culture in an organization that has changing beliefs on the value of food safety. This creates a dilemma when attempting to transform an organization’s norms while influencing new senior leaders’ views on food safety. Presuming success in gaining alignment with senior leaders, the professional must then undertake the process of change management, now under stricter budgeting constraints. Previously used tools for creating a food safety culture (training, development, roles and responsibilities, outside monitoring, advisory and auditing services) are now under additional scrutiny, making the task even harder, as greater justification is required.   
Clearly, the current economic situation, with increased M&A activity and strong influence from the “3G impact,” has created a perfect storm for the professional trying to create a strong food safety culture. These external forces will require a level of creativity beyond what has been needed in the past.
Changing Workforce Demographics
Changing demographics have also caused headwinds for the professional trying to institute an enviable food safety culture in his/her organization. As we look at the changes in the market today, one of the most influential forces is the changing immigrant population in the U.S. As the U.S. population grows from an immigrant influx, jobs taken by these transplants tend toward low-skilled roles—often in the manufacturing industry. At the same time, native English speakers shy away from manufacturing roles, opting for less-labor-intensive ones. In fact, “immigrants are 1.2 times as likely as U.S.-born workers to be employed in the manufacturing sector.”[4] This change in the number of immigrants in food manufacturing creates challenges for the professional working toward creating a food safety culture, as there are difficulties in training non-English speakers, as well as aligning norms and behaviors from foreign cultures with differing values. The approach the professional takes in communicating and training food manufacturing workers must change to address the changing population.
In addition to the changes from immigrant populations, there are also currently three major generations in the labor force. Defined as boomers, Gen Xers, and millennials, they are almost equally represented in the workforce. Baby boomers are defined by having grown up in a time of relative economic prosperity. As a result, they are willing to work hard and sacrifice work-life balance for success. Oftentimes, they are described as workaholics and have a critical view of others that do not work as hard. Gen Xers have been described as highly independent and less committed to an organization. They are more mobile in the workforce, demonstrating less commitment to a company, and they highly value work-life balance. The third major generational influence is the millennials who tend to be more highly educated and technologically savvy, with a strong social consciousness. Millennials, having grown up with social media, are confident in sharing information and value diversity. As we view these different generations, it is clear that their differences require varying approaches to engage them. Communication will need to be carried out using several different tactics, and training will require multiple methodologies.
Employee-Employer Relationship
While these changing demographics force a modification in approach, simultaneously, there has been a shift in the relationship between employee and employer. Over the last 20 years, the commitment that once existed between a company and its associates has changed, as the previous long-term employment “contract” no longer exists. “At-will employment” has created a new norm where employers are free to hire and fire, and employees are free to come and go. This fluid employment relationship has eliminated the long-term commitment of employees and created an environment of shorter-term employment. This, too, has created challenges for the professional tasked with creating a food safety culture. No longer can one depend on norms and traditions handed down from one generation of employees to the next. And sustaining behaviors by having long-term employees with low turnover cannot be relied on to ensure the food safety culture remains robust.
Changing Engagement Needs
With a work environment more and more reliant on employees who have a shorter-term employment commitment, it becomes more challenging to engage associates in the culture and truly embrace the values. Research shows that people’s food safety behavior is most significantly influenced by their supervisor’s commitment to food safety.[5] This requires a different approach from our first-level supervisors in engaging the workforce, as they are incredibly influential in terms of developing the appropriate behaviors on the plant floor or at the food-contact locations and in sustaining these behaviors.
Another approach to engaging the workforce is through the use of training, communication, and measurements. To address the entire workforce in a cost-effective and timely manner, frequently we use a one-size-fits-all approach. The challenge with this is that to be truly engaged, employees need to see things very specifically, not in the generic fashion that we have historically used. Associates need to understand aspects of food safety that are particularly relevant to their role, and they need to be given tools that are useful to them. Not only must we be aware of language differences, four to six different generations including millennials and cultural variations, and addressing those with customized training specifically using their desired language or recognizing their cultural perspectives, but we must also refine training and tools to be job specific and relevant. This approach is critical to quickly getting the shorter-term workforce up to speed with the appropriate norms and behaviors, without relying on legacy knowledge or systems. By making training and tools job specific, we make the expectations real to the employee, and they are better able to internalize the requirements of their role.
Combined, the socioeconomic influences and the demographic changes add new complexity to the challenges faced in changing and sustaining a strong food safety culture. To sustain the culture, a level of resiliency must be created in the culture that allows for changing employee populations and business dynamics. It is no longer enough to develop a food safety policy statement and train the workforce using a generic approach. Much deeper leadership commitment, support of supervisors, and engagement of employees will be needed. The battle for a resilient food safety culture, one that will stand strong in the face of socioeconomic and demographic winds of change, will be won through employees’ hearts and minds. To be successful, there are several critical steps to be taken. This includes management alignment, defining/instituting expectations, communication programs, aligned incentives and disincentives, education, and supervisor support.
Unlike strategy and leadership, culture cannot be planned like a rebranding exercise. You can’t just say “we are now a learning organization or purposeful organization.” The company culture is all about employees’ behaviors and beliefs; it is how they work and get work done. Changing the culture requires changing the way the company gets work done.
Strategies to Define or Redefine Your Company’s Food Safety Expectations
Faced with the changes described, today’s food industry professional has to be constantly on the lookout to learn from others, be flexible to constantly incorporate new tricks, and persistent to stay the course. We want to share some activities that we have found to work effectively to adapt our company’s food safety expectations and engage our colleagues. We chose to define a food safety expectation as “a simple and easy-to-understand description of how a person is to act specific to food safety and the person’s role.”
Creating organizational change can be daunting, will take a long time to achieve, and requires relentless effort. For culture change to take effect, the CEO and top management team must align with the target culture desired.[6] The food safety professional must work to create top leadership alignment around a food safety culture that may be new to the organization. Alignment requires management to communicate the new cultural elements through their actions, not just their memos, white papers, and words. The change must consistently cascade throughout the organization from the top down to the front-line worker.
After obtaining senior leadership alignment, one of the first steps in instituting a new culture is to define expectations. It is important to set up clear expectations so that each individual understands how food safety—and even quality in its broader sense—fits with their job. Expectations are key to setting up clear accountabilities. They help get results and drive the right behaviors. Most importantly, the message needs to be credible to people at all levels in the organization.
In setting expectations, there are several challenges to overcome. First and foremost is the need to adapt to the audience. This means that you must ensure that you target everybody. It is critical to make the message specific to each person’s role; in this way, they will be more engaged in the culture change, having a full grasp of the expectations specific to them. It is also important to remember that expectations should not be only about standards or tangible outputs but also about mindset and behaviors. Also important to understand is that one company’s set of expectations does not fit every company. Tailoring expectations to roles and to an organization is critical to ensuring their successful implementation.
Make Leadership Decisions
Mission and vision statements
These guiding principles should be short, memorable, and core to all activities in your plant. Employees should not have to look at a poster or pull a card out of their wallet to read their mission statement. Simply put: This is how we work—every day, every job, everyone. Simple is always better; it helps to ensure understanding and retention.
Organizational norms: See something, say something
Create a safe environment for employees to identify and even correct unsafe situations without fear of retaliation. Too many incidents have occurred because a worker did not take action when they could have. While no one in the plant wants to see a production line stopped, everyone should want to see a zero tolerance for potential recalls and poor-quality product going out the door. Create a safe climate for fixing the problems rather than “shooting the messenger.”
Organizational design
Position titles and job descriptions should include food safety expectations. Ideally, food safety responsibilities should appear in everyone’s job description. These responsibilities should be clearly defined and role specific. Identifying food safety leaders with titles such as “food safety and quality assurance supervisor” demonstrates your commitment. Food safety committees involving line workers as well as supervisors and managers also communicate your seriousness of purpose in creating a strong food safety culture.
Changing culture requires hard work, persuasive buy-in from the organization (especially at the top), and a comprehensive approach for implementation. Determining your current culture and then defining your target culture shows you the gaps you need to fill. Using some of the tools above and others you may create, fill in the gaps to make steps toward your target culture. Use a layered approach—that is, don’t try to eat the elephant all at once but take bite-size steps to reach your goal.
Take inventory
To begin the process of implementing food safety expectations and making food safety an integral part of the company’s day-to-day fabric, you must first take inventory of where you are today. After assessing the current state, describe the food safety targets you would like to weave into everyone’s behaviors and actions. For instance, you might set expectations of more rigorous Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs). One company decided that they would not just have good practices but great manufacturing practices. Remember that your target culture must align with your business strategy—what works for other companies might not work for yours. Finding the right targets can be critical to success.
Set targets
Ensuring that you have the right targets and overall expectations is not enough. To have a greater chance that people will truly engage in the expectations, they have to be relevant and clear for them. It is important that they give purpose and provide a clear link to the company mission. Critically important is that you clarify expectations for every function and every person across the organization. Do not provide broad-brush expectations, thinking that people will be able to link them to their own roles. Do not leave this for them to do; it leads to misunderstandings and a lack of engagement in the culture. It is incredibly beneficial to use role models to show people exactly what it looks like, to truly involve people in helping to define expectations specific to their roles. Standards and policies are not sufficient; they must be translated into clear expectations for each employee according to their role.
Once you have identified these targets, you must broadcast the expectations of the new food safety culture. While you may begin by personally communicating the new practices and habits, you may want to include recognition and reward systems for changing behaviors and disincentives for resisting the changes. To make this happen, take a note from Peter Drucker’s playbook: “What gets measured gets improved.” Personalizing the new practices and measuring them will increase participation.
As part of your rollout, determine the leaders at all levels of the organization who will most closely align with the target culture. Remember that we need to manage expectations and enthusiasm at all levels. It is very important to have appropriate leadership emphasis on the principles, but any cultural initiative cannot only be executed “top down.” Change agents are critical, and they won’t always be your designated managers. To truly own the culture change, employees must decide for themselves that it is the right thing to do. For this, they need to hear, feel, and see the engagement and involvement of their peers who influence them. You will need these champions to live, eat, and breathe the new way of working. Managers that are not aligned can be further energized and inspired by training and development, demonstrating the value that the target culture brings to the business. Those managers who may never become comfortable with the change may choose to leave the organization. However, having negative forces in the company will ultimately sabotage your plan for success.
Broadcast Specifically and Constantly
With the appropriate champions lined up (and aligned with the new changes), it is now necessary to create a vocabulary that fully supports your target culture. Communication becomes critical, and there are numerous ways to accomplish this. Remembering that only 8 percent of communication occur through words and 58 percent through body language (and actions), your activities to educate must be compatible with your target culture. It is important to keep in mind that this requires a resilient and relentless attitude toward communication.
Here are some tips and tools to assist you in your quest:
•    Integrate into company mission and vision statements
•    Create a tagline or slogan that is memorable and impactful
•    Product-use communications
•    Reward and recognition programs to promote food safety culture
•    Onboarding and continuing education
•    Talking kits for supervisors
•    Weekly training refreshers
•    Certifications in food safety
•    Social media posts—Facebook, Twitter, email
•    Buddy system on-boarding
•    See something, say something
•    Organizational design
While this may take some creative minds, a tagline that highlights food safety can be a mantra of sorts that gains mind share of everyone in your organization. It is easy to remember “From Farm to Plate, Make Food Safe!” Frequent reminders through digital/traditional signage, food safety meetings, and even a note in the comments section of a pay stub increase awareness.
Product-use communications
Making the job real to employees makes all the difference in the world. Instead of just running a bacon-slicing machine, what if they knew they were creating breakfast for families all over the world? Don’t use a Hollywood stock photo of the perfect family in their suburban California house. Instead, make the image a photo of the demographics of your workers. If you can, use your employees and their families. Knowing the result of their efforts and connecting what they do with their life situations can increase their engagement and focus on food safety. Using tools such as digital or traditional signage, emails, and social media as well as developing an understanding of the end products during onboarding will change their perspective.
Talking kits for supervisors
Frequent (weekly or even daily) “scripted” meetings to cover specific topics can be very effective refreshers. The meetings could be one-point lessons or 2 minutes during the beginning of a shift. Visual aids such as Huddle Guides can create a professional learning experience for every supervisor without a lot of preparation. The point is repetition, repetition, and more repetition; take a lesson from the advertising industry, which believes it takes 16 impressions or views before a consumer stores information in long-term memory.
Social media posts—Facebook, Twitter, email, and others
To the extent that your workforce uses social media, daily messaging can reinforce learning. It can also be very beneficial to provide stories of success. Judicious use of email can be a great refresher for information recently acquired but not yet in long-term memory.
Engage Creatively
Rewards and recognition
Incentives work, and they raise awareness. Rewards don’t have to be extravagant—lunch with the president/plant manager, an extra day off, T-shirts and other wearables, a raffle for a big prize quarterly, gift cards, preferred parking spots, and competitions can all create positive awareness of food safety.
Continuing education
Companies that invest at the front end and continue that investment will change their food safety culture quickly. Using technology such as online courses that track training can be effective in promoting food safety. The online course industry is moving to mobile and “micro learning” courses that can be accessed anywhere, anytime in short bursts. The industry also recognizes the forgetting curve, the notion that students will not remember 90 percent of the material 24 hours after consuming it.[7] This can be diminished by reviews, refreshers, and boosts. Refreshers such as emails, posters, digital signage, food safety floor meetings, and other reminders will increase retention and build the culture.
Buddy system onboarding
Since the food industry has relatively high turnover compared with other manufacturing industries, a buddy system that provides experienced workers as mentors and teachers to new employees can be very effective. To be a “buddy,” the employee must be certified by a supervisor that they can teach well and provide guidance. Buddies can be incentivized to do a great job by providing additional “buddy training pay” and a retention bonus to the teacher if the employee stays for 6 months.
Certifications in food safety
As mentioned above, measurement can create improvement. A simple system at one of SugarCreek’s plants creates a scorecard called an OLPT Flex-Chart for each employee. For each skill or task, a rating of observer (O), learner (L), proficient (P), or teacher (T) is assigned by an instructor. The observer has never tried the skill and wants to learn. The learner is beginning to understand the skill by classroom or online learning, followed by a hands-on session with a teacher. The proficient employee has mastered the skill and can perform it on their own. The teacher has not only mastered the skill but also can teach others to perform it. You can incentivize employees by providing opportunities for advancement to leads or supervisors based on their OLPT Flex-Chart performance.
Earlier, we defined a food safety expectation as “a simple and easy-to-understand description of how a person is to act specific to food safety and the person’s role.” You now understand how critical it is to clearly define the desired behaviors and to make these expectations role specific. Each individual must understand what they must do in their role to live up to the food safety expectations of their position. It could be as simple as following GMPs in their preparation for work, or it may involve monitoring critical temperatures and stopping a process should there be a deviation. Regardless of the role that each person plays, they must be very cognizant of the expected actions they should take and the behaviors that they should display. There is no room for ambiguity in creating food safety expectations.
We’ve also defined the activities necessary to change and sustain a food safety culture: align top leadership, make leadership decisions, take inventory, set targets, broadcast specifically and constantly, and engage creatively. It is critical to ensure that the company’s senior leaders all support the food safety culture. Shared documents like mission and vision statements must demonstrate this alignment too. But words are not enough; further support must be demonstrated by ensuring a safe climate exists to call out food safety issues. Job titles and job descriptions are also important ways to convey further alignment with the desired culture. All these things reinforce the transformation in behaviors and actions that is expected. To get started with any type of culture change, a baseline assessment must be conducted. This helps to set everyone on the starting point. Then it is easier to set targets for where you want to be in the future. One key aspect that is often undervalued is the need to communicate incessantly. And finally, no culture change could succeed without actively engaging the entire workforce in the transformation.
Today’s business environment is more challenging than ever for anyone trying to create a strong food safety culture. With the economic forces of increased M&A activity, zero-based budgeting focuses, changing demographics, and the transformation in the traditional employer-employee contract, there are compelling influences that make it difficult to engage an organization’s leadership and employees in instituting and sustaining a food safety culture. This requires different approaches in this climate to be successful. Many companies have tackled these same issues and have developed successful approaches to deal with these challenges. There are common threads among those successful organizations around leadership alignment, role-specific expectations, active communication, incentive/disincentive programs, heavily supported education, and employee engagement efforts. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, we can learn from those companies that have succeeded and pick and choose the programs that would best be utilized in our own organizations.
Beyond the recommended activities, we reiterate three key themes that resonate with all and should be remembered:
o    Keep it simple. Make sure the message is easy enough to be well understood and communicated effortlessly. Ensure that you aren’t trying to do too much. Limit the objectives to ensure you don’t make it too complex and confusing.
o    Make it specific. Ensure that you cascade expectations down so that they touch each individual. Make sure that they’re role specific, so each person understands their part of the change and you get everyone engaged. Don’t leave the expectations ambiguous.
o    Communicate, communicate, communicate. Use every available method to communicate the message. Never underestimate how much communication a culture change requires. Overcommunicate!  
Charlean Gmunder is former vice president, manufacturing, prepared meat for Maple Leaf Foods. Bill Cunningham, M.B.A., is dean of SugarCreekU.
5. Ball, B, A Wilcock, and M Aung. 2009. “Factors Influencing Workers to Follow Food Safety Management Systems in Meat Plants in Ontario, Canada.” Int J Environ Health Res 19(3):201–218.
6. Groysberg, B, et al. 2017. “How to Shape Your Culture.” Harvard Business Review.
7. Ebbinghaus, H. Memory: A Contribution to Experimental Psychology (1885).

Color-Coded Tools in the Food Industry
Source :
By Remco Products (Sep 04, 2018)
Color-Coded Tools in the Food Industry
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 6 Americans gets sick from eating contaminated food every year, resulting in an estimated 3,000 deaths. As if the human cost isn’t sobering enough, the Grocery Manufacturers Association also estimates the average cost of a recall to a food company is a whopping $10 million in direct costs in addition to brand damage and lost sales. Forty-eight percent of recalls in 2017 happened because of undeclared allergens, and 32 percent were due to Listeria, Salmonella, or Eshcerichia coli.
Color-coded tools are a practical, straight-forward way to implement zoning in a facility and may help keep different hygiene levels—such as raw and finished products—separated.
Color-Coding as a Preventive Control
Color-coding cleaning tools can help decrease the risk of contamination or allergen cross-contact incidents that lead to recalls. The process of color-coding in food production facilities has become more important thanks to the regulations in the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and the guidelines proposed in Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) standards. FSMA and HACCP address food safety by creating systems for preventing, eliminating, or reducing any significant hazards in the entire production process, from raw material to distribution of the finished product.
Color-coding is an excellent example of a control measure. Color-coded tools can be assigned to different CCPs to keep allergens or likely sources of contamination separate. For example, blue may be assigned to the section of a plant that deals with raw hamburger, while the section that handles it post-cooking uses yellow. This easy signifier helps ensure that a brush that cleaned a surface covered in raw beef (and possibly E. coli) isn’t used to clean the workbench for the finished product. Color-coding is an easy and simple solution to ensuring tools and cleaning equipment aren’t switched around these raw and finished workspaces.
When color-coding is well implemented in a facility, it’s easy to distinguish among zones and know what they represent. Because of this instant visual cue, separating raw from finished products and keeping allergens separated is much simpler.
Color-Coding as a Universal Language
The environment in a food processing facility can be chaotic. The frantic nature of it is only compounded when employees speak multiple different languages. Trying to keep everything organized and streamlined can, at times, be a daunting task. Having employees use color-coded tools could solve some of these issues.
Whether you have just one employee who speaks another language, or 500 who speak a variety, color-coding may help to keep efficiency high and mistakes low. Colors are universal, no matter what language someone speaks. Employees can be taught in their own language that red tools are used for wheat, for example, and they’ll be able to identify the right tool without having to hold a conversation with another employee, who may not speak their same language.
To assist in everyone learning and remembering which color goes with which zones or products, posters and/or color-coded tool stations should have each color with its purpose in all languages spoken in the facility.
How to Choose Colors for Different Applications
Color-coding’s success as a preventive control can be lost before the first tool comes into the facility if colors aren’t chosen wisely. The usefulness of color-coding comes from its simplicity, and choosing too many colors or having complicated color assignments can muddle this clarity.
Limit the number of colors you use to around 3–5 in small or medium-size facilities. In larger food processing plants, keeping the number of colors each individual has to remember on a daily basis to the same small range can help keep everyone on the same page.
Similarly, think carefully before adding secondary color assignments or mixing and matching tools and their handles. Instant recognition is one of the largest benefits of color-coded tools and taking that away by complicating it may reduce its effectiveness.
Colors should contrast with the products they will be used in. For example, yellow works well for seafood, but might not be as useful with wheat. A small scraper may be hard to spot in a large container of wheat, and being able to easily spot a tool can mean the difference between a pricey recall and a fixable mistake.
Any color-coding plan should account for common forms of color-blindness. After all, 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women have some type of color-blindness. Avoid pairing red and green together, as this is the most common form of color-blindness. Otherwise, try to avoid pairing shades that are close together on the color wheel, such as blue and purple. Black is an excellent choice for floors and drains since those brushes will be used with harsh chemicals in the areas with heavy potential for contamination and absolutely must not be mixed up with another color.
Training for Color-Coding Programs
When a new color-coding plan is introduced, training should begin shortly before the tools actually arrive on site. To minimize any possibilities of confusion, be sure to roll out the color-coding program all at once and announce a clear start date. Workers should know what colors they’ll be expected to use, along with how to store and take care of their tools. Along with this, employees should be taught why color-coding can help increase food safety and make their jobs easier. The concepts should be laid out plainly and clearly, and should be paired with facts about how dangerous cross-contamination and cross-contact incidents can be.
When employees feel the weight of their involvement in food safety efforts and are given simple measures to follow, they may follow procedures more closely.
Once a program is up and running, re-training will need to happen yearly, at a minimum. These retraining sessions should be both specific in what colors are to be used when or where, and contain a general overview of the purpose of color-coding.
Re-training should also happen when a wrong color tool is used, even if the error was caught quickly enough to avoid damage. When a program change happens, workers should be re-educated and retrained on every step of the process, even for areas where nothing changed.
Training is of the utmost importance, but signage can bolster that training. Don’t leave room for ambiguity with color-coding. Let signs—in however many languages are needed—remind workers which color is assigned to which zone.
Having a color-coding program in place can help prevent cross-contact and cross-contamination incidents in food processing facilities. Not only does it serve as a simple visual cue, it can also transcend language barriers. With a straightforward color-coding plan and sufficient employee training, color-coding can help reduce the chance of a recall, which could save a company money, time, and brand reputation.
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The future of food safety: the revolution is on our doorsteps.
Source :
By Rob Chester( Sep 05, 2018)
In five years’ time, how will best practice look for food safety in light of technological developments?
At NSF International’s own conference, ‘Evolution Meets Revolution’, in London in February 2017, familiar as I am with the developments in the fast-evolving food sector, I was bowled over by the scale of largely positive change that technology is bringing our way. This really is a revolution. As Tom Chestnut, NSF International’s Global VP for Food, said “we can’t see it now, but we will look back on the year 2017 as a tipping point for the food industry”. This is the moment when innovations that have been considered as niche developments for early adopters will transform into mass market industry and consumer tools. By 2036 there will be one trillion connected devices, with 10 billion users and $20 trillion in revenue, but if you think 20 years is a long time off , I can assure you there’s an awful lot more to think about in the next five years.
What brings opportunities often brings problems and technology is no exception. Increasing complexity and power in human hands places huge responsibilities upon all of us. The developers of artificial intelligence worry greatly about social responsibility.
The challenges to today’s brands are many and complex. They have to meet the requirements to maintain consumer trust, be legally compliant, achieve brand protection and fulfil corporate social responsibilities across multiple territories. This means at a minimum the need for diligence in food safety and quality, nutrition, product authenticity, supply chain security, animal welfare, ethical trading issues and sustainability. At the same time the pace of technological change is accelerating. In the last few years we have seen the advent of big data, predictive analytics, the internet of things, robotic working, 3D and 4D printing, DNA and isotope traceability, genetic modification, genome editing and more. Some of these add to the complexity of risk management, while others can help us manage supply chain risks more effectively. For this article I have picked just three innovations that are already impacting on how we approach food safety and brand protection: wearable technology, predictive analytics and alternative sources of protein. There were many more, which ranged from scientific techniques to verify the provenance of food products, as explained by Oritain’s Stewart Whitehead, through to a new standard, Clearview, aimed at helping the supply chain stamp out modern slavery.
Wearable technology
NSF International has been working with Google for nearly three years to fine-tune the application of Google glasses for food safety auditing and training. A huge advantage to the user testing has been the fact that NSF already audits all of Google’s worldwide food operations, and advancing the use of wearable technology was a natural evolution for a progressive company like Google. The latest hardware employed by NSF, the ODG R7, now has full-screen viewing while still maintaining full field of vision to complete tasks in total safety. As the user conducts an audit or task, they see a small screen that can display additional material for guidance, instruction and two-way audio-visual communication. The device also includes a camera and operates wirelessly, controlled through a small mouse worn on the finger. The potential uses are numerous: first and foremost, it means that remote auditing – in hard to reach or unsafe locations – becomes an economically viable proposition. Not only that, but even an untrained operator can carry out the audit with full guidance and tuition from a live auditor sitting at a screen on the other side of the world. Alternatively, extra guidance can be provided by pre-recorded mini training sessions. The possibilities are endless.
Food Fraud 2019 | 28 February 2019
Now in its third year, Food Fraud 2019 reunites leading industry professionals from across the globe, to a one-day event, dedicated to upholding the integrity of the global food supply chain. Produced in association with some of the finest experts in the food industry, Food Fraud 2019 will once again bring together quality assurance heads from global food manufacturers and processors who need to keep up-to-date on the latest regulations.
The pace of technological change is accelerating. In the last few years we have seen the advent of big data, predictive analytics, the internet of things, robotic working, 3D and 4D printing, DNA and isotope traceability, genetic modification, genome editing and more.
While NSF International is an early adopter of this technology, wearables are also in wide-spread use in the aerospace and automotive industries which typically require complex and high-precision tasks where accuracy is essential. The wearable technology market will already be worth over $126 billion by 2020. This is the so-called fourth computer paradigm (following mainframe computers, laptops and mobiles) where wearable devices will take over from mobile as the norm. But where it has taken mobile phones 10 years to develop from an iPhone 1 to today’s iPhone 7, the development of smart glasses will be four times as fast. By 2020 they will be a mainstream consumer product and mobile phones will rapidly be becoming a thing of the past. How will these and other devices in the Internet of Things connect? Likely through more innovation such as Google’s Project Loon (solar-powered balloons), high in the stratosphere, no more than 40 miles apart, providing high-speed connectivity across the globe. Facebook plans to use solar-powered drones to the same end.
Predictive analytics for food safety
The world’s capacity to store and manipulate data has grown exponentially to the point where artificial intelligence now outstrips human thinking and data can be measured in zettabytes. Where you have sufficient data, you can predict with reasonable confidence future outcomes. Predictive analytics are already in common use in other sectors, for example insurance, fleet management and for public policy, and, like wearable technology, the food industry is a relatively late adopter. In the UK, while the number of food business is growing fast, and customer complaints are rising by a similar percentage, the number of employees involved in food hygiene regulation and enforcement by comparison has fallen by 15%. How can we keep our citizens safe? In Chicago, U.S., the authorities have proven that predictive analytics can forecast accurately when there is a major risk of a food business failing a food safety audit and enable pre-emptive action to be taken.
ROB CHESTER leads NSF International’s food safety services and operations in the UK, and serves as part of the senior management team for the NSF Food Safety Division’s Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region. Rob has a proven track record across a wide range of disciplines including responsible sourcing, risk management and trading law, and experience as chief compliance officer for a division of a large U.S.-based retailer.



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