FoodHACCP Newsletter

Food Safety Job Openings


10/26. Food Safety Specialist - New York, NY
10/26. Food Safety Manager - Yakima, WA
10/26. Food Plant Safety Sanitation - Salt Lake City, UT
10/24. Laboratory Technician - Bozeman, MT
10/24. Production Lab Technician - Hood River, OR
10/24. Quality Systems Technician - Fredericksburg, PA
10/22. Corporate FS&Q Scientist - Gaylord, MN
10/22. Food Safety Coordinator - Las Vegas, NV
10/22. Laboratory Analyst - Night Shift - Aberdeen, SD

10/29 2018 ISSUE:832


The “A” in Culture: A Toolbox to Drive Positive Food Safety Behaviors
Source :
By Bertrand Emond, M.Sc., MBA, Julia Bradsher, Ph.D., M.B.A., and Laura Nelson
Ensuring the safety of food products for consumers is a key goal of a food safety culture, and food companies are increasingly challenged to manage a robust food safety culture that consistently delivers safe food.
Getting things wrong can have devastating effects not only on the business but also on consumers and society. Every day, new cases seem to be emerging.
Consider food recalls as a measure of food safety. In data published by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration examining the root cause of food recalls,[1] about 26 percent of food recalls were the result of improperly following Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), and 32 percent were caused by inadequate training. More recently, a global food safety training survey found that 67 percent of food safety respondents agreed that “Despite our efforts, we still have employees not following our food safety program on the plant floor.” The extent to which all employees internalize and apply consistent food safety behaviors is influenced by their own cultures, attitudes, values and beliefs, and training effectiveness, as well as those of their peers and their business.[2]
These factors are examples that fit into what is called the ABC model,[3] which stands for “antecedent, behavior, consequence” (Figure 1). It is a simple and powerful model when trying to understand and change behaviors, and it is a useful tool that can be used to strengthen an organization’s food safety culture. Ultimately, managing behaviors within the workplace will reinforce and ensure the safety of the food being grown, transported, manufactured, or served.
An antecedent is something that comes before a behavior and is required for an individual to understand what is expected and how to perform a behavior. A practical example could be a policy and procedure communicated to employees on proper handwashing techniques.
A behavior is anything an individual does and is observable. A practical example could be washing hands using the procedure that has been taught, all the time, every time.
A consequence is something that follows and is caused by the behavior. There is a feedback loop built into the behavior, as what happened last time you behaved in a particular way will have an effect on how you will behave the next time. Depending on the consequence, you will either sustain or change your behavior. A practical example of a consequence could be positive feedback from a supervisor because you showed a colleague the right way to wash hands and why it is important.
In this article, we are focusing on the “A” or antecedent to provide you with examples of how what we know drives what we do and how antecedents help us better understand what is expected and how to deliver on these expected behaviors.
We need to do what we do better and smarter to optimize the return on investment and effort, and drive compliance.
We also want to share some specific challenges related to training as an antecedent and how you can get more out of your training investments.
Importance of Managing the Antecedents Effectively
As part of this effective management, and to choose and set the “right” and most effective antecedents for your company, it is critical to undertake a robust root-cause analysis in a case of poor performance or unacceptable behavior, or when needing to introduce a new behavior.   
Potential findings of your root-cause analysis
Typically, when analyzing why a group or person behaved in a particular way, there are two generic cases: They did not know what to do, or they knew what to do. For each case, there are several root causes. For case 1, I am not trained, and I am new to the company; I was trained, but it was complex and boring, and I lost interest. For such situations, antecedents like dedicating time and scheduling training consistently for new hires or conducting a training needs analysis to better understand the learning need, learners, etc. will help correct wrong behaviors caused by “I did not know.” It is essential to perform a robust training needs analysis for each employee based on the job they are expected to do and develop a competency framework detailing the knowledge, skills, and behaviors expected for each job role.
For case 2, “I do know what the right thing to do was…,” root causes could be “I was not physically able” or “I did not bother.” For each, there are again antecedents that would help drive the wanted behaviors. For example, are the tools for the job actually fit for purpose? Is there a rewards-and-recognition program specifically designed to motivate and inspire teams and individuals to behave in the expected manner?
As illustrated, the root-cause analysis can lead you, potentially, to quite different root causes that would require completely different corrective actions. Traditional classroom training/retraining is not always the answer, and you must select your antecedents based on a detailed root-cause analysis and needs assessment. When selecting, designing, and implementing your antecedents, you should also consider in your needs assessment a couple of key factors: national cultures and the impact of generations.   
National cultures and impact on antecedents
It is imperative to take into account the deep culture (nationality, where they were brought up, religious beliefs, ethics) of your employees. Hofstede’s national cultural dimensions,[4] the Lewis Model,[5,6] and Meyer’s Culture Maps[7] are very useful for the identification of some of the challenges you might face when trying to improve the culture of your business. It will also help you understand why an employee has behaved in a particular way:
•    Communication: Some deep cultures prefer precise, simple, and clear messages taken at face value (e.g., Germany or U.S.); others prefer more nuanced messages and reading between the lines (e.g., Japan or Korea).    
•    Giving feedback: Some prefer direct and blunt feedback (e.g., Netherlands); others prefer private, softer feedback (e.g., Japan).
•    Persuasion: Some prefer a practical approach with executive summary and facts (e.g., U.S. or UK); others prefer to cover the theory/concept first, then move to the facts (e.g., France or Italy).
•    Leading: Some prefer a flat organization (e.g., Denmark or Sweden); others prefer a clear formal hierarchical structure (e.g., Japan or Korea). This would have an impact on the level of autonomy and ownership felt by those working for the company and their authority to deal with potential food safety or quality problems; achieving “empowerment” might be more challenging for some.
•    Decision making: Some deep cultures prefer consensus that might take a while to achieve (e.g., Japan or Sweden); others prefer the decisions to be made by the boss—it can be much quicker, but then time will be needed to get everybody else on board (e.g., China or India).
•    Scheduling: Some prefer clear, time-bound deadlines for each activity (e.g., Germany or Switzerland); others prefer a more flexible multitasking approach (e.g., India or China).
•    Rewarding: Some prefer individual rewards and recognition (e.g., U.S. and UK); others prefer team rewards (e.g., China or Mexico).
Impact of generations on food safety culture and effectiveness of antecedents
As already mentioned, antecedents like training should be designed by using a needs analysis to understand the learning objectives and the specific characteristics of the learner generations. The workforces of most sites now span four generations [baby boomers, Gen X, millennials (Generation Y), and the new Generation Z!]. The generations have different values, aspirations, attitudes, and behaviors. This has implications for managing a site’s culture. One antecedent might not have the same effect on all.
Differences between the generations mean that interpersonal relations, teamwork and collaboration, and effective communication can be affected. Different techniques might be required to drive engagement and loyalty for each group.
For example, the millennials and Gen Z employees are true digital natives (addicted to their devices) with the ability to multi-task and embrace new technologies quickly; but they are often described as self-centered, impatient, immature (finding hard to manage others), and less focused; craving regular feedback and recognition, they seem to be more concerned about values and are more sensitive.
Antecedents: Your Toolbox!
Antecedents need to address all the specific root causes that you uncovered in your analysis. This will increase the performance of your overall food safety plan and create a better connection between why the company sets expectations around food safety behaviors. We have listed some of our favorite antecedents for you to consider (Figure 2). We also strongly recommend that you have a look at your health and safety (H&S) activities and pick up useful tips from them. In fact, industry food safety leaders are partnering with their colleagues in H&S, operations, human resources (HR), maintenance, etc. to collectively determine the appropriate employee behaviors required to achieve the business goals and objectives.
1. Senior Leaders and Managers
These individuals need to show their clear and consistent commitment to making safe food, which includes dedicating time and effort to train and educate staff, and ensure that all people involved in food production (e.g., staff, contractors, agencies) realize that they play a part in food safety and that they are accountable.
This covers onboarding of new staff, agency staff, and contractors, and ensuring timely refreshers and relevant training following the installation of a new piece of equipment.
2. Trust and Openness
The company needs to have a trusting and open environment that empowers employees to speak up if they feel that food safety is being compromised and corners are being cut for production’s sake.
3. Hazard and Risk Awareness
The company needs to be aware of all relevant hazards and risks that might have a food safety impact on its business and communicate this to its staff in an effective manner, with regular updates. Consider applying some of the techniques used by the H&S team.
4. Communications and Messaging
Good communication ensures that a company’s food safety strategy and expectations are received consistently and understood by all employees within the organization. The goal is to educate, inform, and raise awareness among all new and existing employees of safe practices so they assume ownership of their role in ensuring consumer safety and brand protection.
It must occur regularly, be tailored to the organization’s various audiences, accessible wherever the desired behavior should occur, and measured for effectiveness (e.g., via online surveys and employee focus groups).
Examples of available food safety communication channels include posters, meetings, briefings, videos, phone calls, conferences, huddles, digital coaching, mentoring, feedback/suggestion processes, company intranet and message boards, corporate website, competitions, buddy program, gemba kaizen circle meetings, awards and recognitions, and consequences, including disciplinary actions up to termination.
Consider leveraging the functional expertise of industry experts and your colleagues in marketing to help to segment the workforce and develop targeted food safety messaging, taking into account deep culture, generations, job type, etc. Fonterra, a large dairy cooperative in New Zealand, has been using this approach of “internal customers profiling” to great effect, as highlighted by Joanna Gilbert of Fonterra at a Campden BRI/TSI Culture Excellence webinar in October 2016.
When a supervisor can have a two-way conversation with an employee, bad habits, poor training, and misinformation can be identified and corrected.
5. Simple Procedures
The tasks to perform and the SOPs to follow should be as simple and easy as possible, and the amount of effort and time required to execute them should be optimized. For example, forms to complete should not be too long and complex. Consider use of pictures rather than text for instructions or specifications.
6. Decision Making
Consider creating an independent escalation path that allows the food safety team to report directly to senior leadership rather than senior operations staff, so that food safety is not compromised when the production and/or commercial teams are under pressure and “cutting corners” is on the table and in conflict with business objectives.
7. Measures
The key performance indicators used across the business should not drive the wrong behavior that might compromise food safety.
8. Tools and Equipment
Employees need to have fit-for-use/fit-for-purpose clothing and equipment, and work in fit-for-purpose premises/buildings.
Have we provided each employee with the appropriate environment to achieve success? For example, one company had an employee in receiving who was inaccurately assessing produce condition. Only after a discussion and evaluation was it discovered that the employee was color-blind and physically unable to distinguish red from green produce. Another employee’s job was to empty ingredients into a hopper without touching the edge of the hopper with the ingredient box exterior. Her supervisor observed the employee routinely leaning the ingredient box onto the hopper and would write up the employee for the behavior deficiency. Finally, after some discussion with the employee, the supervisor realized the ingredient boxes were too heavy for the employee to consistently meet this food safety procedure, and the process was reengineered. Companies intent on enhancing their food safety culture understand the value in actively soliciting routine employee feedback to ensure the employees have the ability and the tools necessary to execute the appropriate food safety behaviors.
9. Investment
The company needs to commit to a decision-making process related to budget, capital expenditure, and investment that does not compromise food safety, thus ensuring the right level of resources and fit-for-purpose/use of equipment.
10. Time
The company needs to ensure that employees have enough time to do their task properly and are not forced to take shortcuts to keep up.
11. Expectations
Employees should understand that they are accountable and responsible for ensuring food is safe; they should know the risks and the right thing to do as a matter of course at all times. They should not be able to get away with unacceptable behaviors.
This should be achieved via training and education but also reinforced by an effective reward system. Also consider a buddy or team approach where one or several employees look out for one another so no one can operate “in the dark” (e.g., CCTV cameras); it is important to show desired behavior as the social norm.
12. Competency
How do you define the knowledge, skills, abilities, and behaviors that workers need to perform their food safety roles effectively? How do you know if they are qualified and competent for the job/task?
You need to define a competency framework that includes the set of competencies required for each role in your business to be performed effectively. Benefits experienced include:
    •    Employees are clearer on what is expected of them
    •    Clearer accountability
    •    More effective recruitment and new staff selection
    •    More effective performance evaluation
    •    More efficient identification of skill and competency gaps
    •    Helps provide more customized training and professional development
    •    More effective succession planning
    •    More efficient change management processes
When you develop these frameworks, make sure you understand the roles fully and get input from the jobholder, supervisors, and also and crucially HR. Your HR colleagues can provide support, expertise, and tools that will be invaluable.
13. Training
Training is essential to ensure that the employee is competent. It includes a range of learning opportunities, such as education, experience/on the job, coaching and mentoring, networking, workshops and conferences, job shadowing, and standardization, not just the dreaded PowerPoint, classroom, once-a-year talk! Consider using training needs analysis/cycle and competency-based learning systems. Make sure your HR team is fully engaged and supporting you.
14. Confidence
Coaching and mentoring as well as having a buddy system are good ways to improve confidence (assuming that the employee is competent and capable). It is vital to determine how well people both understand and have confidence in the training and education they receive. Only through complete comprehension and confidence are they likely to implement safe-food behaviors and influence others around them to do likewise. Having a structured approach to provide consistent feedback, coaching, recognition, and corrective actions enhance two-way communication.
Wrong fit: If all fails, the employee should be redeployed!
15. Reinforcement
Reinforcement relates to the use of rewards, incentives, and disincentives to shape and manage correct behaviors. Rewards, when paired with fair and transparent recognition programs, can help management guide desired food safety behaviors. Such programs should be designed to accommodate cultural differences and different personalities within the organization. Your HR colleagues should be able to provide you with valuable support to design effective reward systems. Clear accountability and compliance foster commitment, empowerment, and ownership. Companies can use various incentives and deterrents to achieve consistent compliance, including:
    •    Positive and negative feedback
    •    Sharing best demonstrated practices
    •    Learnings from failures
    •    Recognition programs
    •    Individual and team awards
    •    Corporate, peer, and self-recognition
    •    Monetary and time compensation, praise
    •    Incentives to report failures and near misses
    •    Promotion and demotion
When Training Is Needed, It Needs to Stick!
As food safety professionals, we commonly focus and rely on food safety training as a key antecedent to drive the appropriate food safety behaviors we expect from our employees to support our food safety protocols and procedures. Considerable time and resources are devoted to food safety training each year, but we don’t often consider whether we are presenting the right content, with an effective delivery, to achieve measured, correct employee behaviors.
So, how are we executing on this key antecedent? Even though 83 percent of global companies reported positively on their ability to drive consistent food safety behaviors, 67 percent responded that despite their best efforts, they still have employees not following the food safety program on the plant floor.[2] The question becomes “Have we just come to expect inconsistent employee behaviors as the norm?”
Companies that are driving a strong food safety culture within their organizations have expanded the traditional classroom training toolbox to include additional tools to more effectively drive consistent employee food safety behaviors. For example, 46 percent verify that training is applied correctly on the plant floor, while 36 percent of the innovative respondents acknowledged they were actively measuring employee performance or behaviors.[2] A small but growing number of companies recognize the value of measuring employee behaviors to the effectiveness of training so that corrective actions can be applied. Observing and assessing employee behaviors allow for a two-way conversation between a supervisor and an employee to address incorrect behaviors. Reasons mentioned why employees did not follow food safety programs consistently include bad habits (62%), preference for doing things the old way (54%), and following other employees’ directions (34%).[2]
Lack of engagement (30%) was also cited as one reason employees do not consistently follow food safety protocols. An astounding 51 percent of the American workforce is not engaged.[8] Companies focused on improving their food safety culture recognize this challenge and apply many different antecedents to improve employee engagement, including food safety communication campaigns using digital signage, supervisor huddle guides, posters, and incentive programs. These different campaigns are all designed to keep food safety top of mind days, weeks, and months after the initial classroom training. This food safety reinforcement drives food safety awareness and indicates the continued importance of food safety throughout the year. Green Valley Pecan Company, one of the world’s largest growers and processors of pecans, deployed a communication campaign and experienced a 17 percent increase in knowledge retention across all employees and a 36 percent increase in correct knowledge recall among their employees who needed it the most—those who did not initially perform well in the knowledge pretest. Deborah Walden-Ralls, co-owner and vice president of risk management for Green Valley Pecan Company, noted that the program “helped us improve the overall quality of our product.”
Sometimes, training program shortcomings may not be what training you are providing but how that training is provided. Are you training employees on your allergen program do’s and don’ts, your critical control protocols, receiving procedures, personal protective equipment program, and the list of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) each January and then wonder why you see GMP violations by June? To aid our food safety culture, we must acknowledge that our employees, many of them millennials, learn in short chunks and tailor our training event in shorter time frames, 20 to 30 minutes, throughout the year.
Are you conducting training at the end of 10-hour shifts, before holidays, or on the weekends when employees are tired and less engaged? Some companies found that moving their training time to mornings or midweek, and recognizing those employees that demonstrate their comprehension of the training, helps employees stay more focused and receptive to food safety education.
Are you delivering training in English, even though over 50 percent of your workforce has English as their second language? Bigelow Tea, a family-owned company, has 70–80 percent Spanish-speaking employees and wanted to make sure that all employees received the same quality of training. By adopting a training platform that provided training in multiple languages and could be customized for their different departments, Bigelow was able to ensure “everyone knows how they are critical to Bigelow’s success,” per Bruce Ennis, vice president of HR for Bigelow.
It is worth remembering and highlighting that “training” includes a much larger list of learning opportunities that happen both inside and outside of the training classroom, as listed earlier. An effective “training cycle” follows a model much like the ABC model with opportunities along the way for assessments and performance improvement programs.
We also find that the most mature organizations use approaches based on competency-based learning. Competency-based learning systems focus on front-end analyses to determine the desired knowledge, skills, abilities, and behaviors necessary for high-level job performance. Such systems emphasize the use of assessments to determine the level of competence against desired outcomes and focus learning and developmental efforts on helping the individual determine a learning path and identifying the learning experiences that help the individual attain the desired competencies. The instructional design methodology known as ADDIE (analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation), coupled with stakeholder input, learning experience review, and support systems, make the system robust, efficient, and effective.
The ABC model is useful when trying to understand and change behavior to strengthen the food safety culture of an organization.
To achieve a strong food safety culture, you need to manage the antecedents effectively to drive and sustain positive food safety behaviors.
Key success factors not only include robust training needs analysis and cycle, competency/capability framework, and root-cause analysis when an employee has not behaved in the right way, but also involve strong leadership. Senior leaders and managers need to show their clear and consistent commitment to making safe food, which includes dedicating and investing resources, time and effort to train and educate staff, and establishing an effective system of rewards and key performance indicators. They need to ensure that all people involved in food production (e.g., staff, contractors, staffing agencies) realize that they play a part in food safety, that they are accountable, and that they are empowered to take action to prevent a food safety failure. Employees need to have fit-for-use/fit-for-purpose clothing and equipment, and work in fit-for-purpose premises/buildings. They need to be aware of all relevant hazards and risks that might have a food safety impact on their business and communicate this to fellow staff and leadership in an effective manner, with regular updates.
To keep food safety top of mind and engage employees fully, senior leaders as well as food safety and technical people need to leverage the functional expertise of peers in other functions, including:
•    H&S, to pick up on tips and techniques, as they have a lot of experience in behavior-based approaches to drive compliance.
•    Marketing, to help segment the workforce and develop targeted food safety messaging, taking into account deep culture, generations, job type, etc.
•    HR, to help with developing and managing the continuing professional development of each employee, the competency framework, and the various training and learning activities required.
•    HR, which usually has access to dedicated software packages and tools, as opposed to battling your way through an Excel spreadsheet when you can squeeze it in your busy schedule. HR support is also valuable when designing an effective reward system to reinforce desired food safety behaviors.
We need to do what we do better and smarter to optimize the return on investment and efforts. As Benjamin Franklin said, by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. So, by getting the antecedents right, we are setting the optimum conditions to get things right the first time and be as efficient as possible.
This is a continuous improvement journey; as the conditions and antecedents adapt to changes in the business, the toolbox provided in this article will be particularly useful. We are here to support you. Over to you!   
Bertrand Emond, M.Sc., M.B.A., is head of membership & training, Campden BRI. Julia Bradsher, Ph.D., M.B.A., is president and CEO, International Food Protection Training Institute. Laura Nelson is vice president, food safety and global alliances, Alchemy Systems.
1. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Survey of Root Cause of Recalls (2009).
3. Braksick, LW. Unlock Behavior, Unleash Profits, vol. 2 (McGraw-Hill., 2007)
4. Hofstede, G. Culture’s Consequences – Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions and Organizations Across Nations (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2001).
5. Hemmerich, K, R Lewis. Fish Can’t See Water. How National Culture Can Make or Break your Corporate Strategy (John Wiley & Sons, 2013).
6. Lewis, R. When Cultures Collide (Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 1996).
7. Meyer, E. The Culture Map (Perseus Books Group, 2014).
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Antibiotic-Free Production and Broiler Chicken Meat Safety
Source :
By Dianna V. Bourassa, Ph.D., and Kim M. Wilson, Ph.D.
Antibiotic-Free Production and Broiler Chicken Meat Safety
There is a significant amount of research regarding the potential impact of the use of antibiotics in animal feeds on the occurrence of antibiotic resistance. However, there is little information on how the use of antibiotic-free production systems impacts the levels and prevalence of foodborne pathogens on raw meat products.
For many years, poultry feeds have contained subtherapeutic levels of antibiotics, known as antibiotic growth promoters (AGPs), to maximize the growth potential of broiler chickens. With increasing concerns regarding antibiotic resistance, the use of antibiotics in chicken feed has decreased. Antibiotic use in poultry feed can be divided into three general categories: no antibiotics ever (NAE), reduced use, or full spectrum. The NAE category applies to birds that have never been fed any antibiotic during their lifetime, including those that are medically important and those that are not used in human medicine. The reduced-use antibiotic category does not allow the use of medically important antibiotics but does allow the use of antibiotics not used in human medicine. Full spectrum allows any U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved antibiotic to be used in chicken feed. In 2017, 40 percent of broiler chicken feed was provided to chickens raised with NAE.[1] This was increased from 20 percent in 2016. Reduced antibiotic-use feeds increased from 18 to 29 percent and full-spectrum feeds decreased from 28 to 12 percent.
Impacts of NAE Production
Changes in the use of antibiotics in poultry feeds can have major impacts on gut health, specifically with regards to coccidiosis and necrotic enteritis. Coccidiosis is caused by intestinal infection of coccidia protozoan parasites (Eimeria), which are commonly found in fecally contaminated environments, such as chicken growout houses. Infections can cause varying degrees of inflammation, bleeding in the intestine, and damage to epithelial cells. A more severe infection has been associated with increases in Salmonella susceptibility.[2] Since the 1970s, coccidiosis has been controlled through the use of ionophores. Although ionophores are not used in human medicine, they are classified as antibiotics and are thus not used in NAE feeds. Non-antibiotic-classified compounds or coccidia vaccines are now being used in place of ionophores to control infection in NAE birds.[3] Some of the FDA-approved compounds used to treat coccidiosis can include arsenic-based compounds.4 While arsenic-based compounds have been shown to decrease the incidence of Salmonella shedding in chickens,5 there is some concern about potential presence of arsenic in meat.[4] Live coccidial vaccines have been in greater use to manage coccidiosis in the U.S.; however, this may be a challenge in food animals without antibiotics. Breakouts of Eimeria, even at low levels, can cause varying degrees of intestinal damage. It has been suggested that with increased intestinal damage, antibiotic-free birds could be more likely to become susceptible to necrotic enteritis,[3] which occurs typically as a secondary infection of the intestinal epithelium with Clostridium perfringens. C. perfringens is commonly found in healthy animals and proliferates in the intestine upward of 10[6] bacteria per gram of gut content. Although other predisposing conditions can occur, such as issues with diet formulation [large amounts of animal-origin protein or nonstarch polysaccharide (NSP) cereal base without enzymes to break down NSP],[6] changes in the immune status caused by mycotoxins,[7] or viral disease, the most common predisposing factor is coccidiosis.[7] During coccidiosis infection, lesions are formed in the intestine, creating a suitable environment for C. perfringens to proliferate and produce toxins. This secondary infection further damages the intestine, leading to necrosis.[8] Necrotic enteritis induced by coccidiosis can reduce short-term and overall body weight gain compared with healthy birds, limits digestion potential, and increases body-weight variability through market age.[9] The implications of decreased uniformity within a flock due to necrotic enteritis and therefore carcass variability become important for mechanical efficiency during processing. Some work has been done assessing the presence of foodborne pathogens including Salmonella and Campylobacter in the intestines of broilers provided feed with or without antibiotics. A study looking at the presence or absence of bacitracin dimethyl salicylate (BMD) found no differences in cecal Salmonella or ileal Campylobacter prevalence but observed less ileal Salmonella and more cecal Campylobacter at processing age from birds fed with BMD antibiotic added.[10]
Alternative feed ingredients such as prebiotics and probiotics are being used as replacements for antibiotics. Prebiotics are feed ingredients that cannot be digested by the bird but instead selectively stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria, thus improving bird health. Some of these include nondigestible oligosaccharides (manno-, fructo-, and galacto-oligosaccharides; MOS, FOS, GOS). The beneficial bacteria selected for stimulated growth or activity include Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus spp., which fall into the category of lactic acid-producing bacteria (LAB). Prebiotics such as MOS can work by blocking binding sites on the intestinal epithelium for pathogens, including Salmonella Typhimurium.[11] Feed additives such as organic acids, inorganic acids, fermentation products, essential oils, and plant extracts can also be added to the diet and/or drinking water to reduce pathogens, including Salmonella.[12] Probiotics, or direct-fed microbials (DFMs), on the other hand, are defined as live microbial feed supplements, which can benefit the bird by improving intestinal microbial balance.[13] Common DFMs include combinations of LABs including Lactobacillus and Bacillus strains with particular lines of species that have been shown to reduce pathogens and potentially improve growth.[14] Probiotics not only affect the bacteria in the intestine but also benefit the bird by regulating the immune response[15,16] and enhancing intestinal integrity. Regulating the bird immune response, including inflammation, is a critical energetic cost to the bird. Currently, the precise modes of action of probiotics are not clear due to the complexity of the bacteria within the gut and a knowledge gap on chicken-microbe relationships. Without understanding the microbial community in the chicken and taking into account the flock-to-flock variability, probiotic administration will remain inconsistent, and breakouts of intestinal disease affecting the final product will continue.
Links between Animal Health and Food Safety
The inclusion of AGPs in feed typically results in the modulation of the intestinal microbial community present, including the suppression of bacterial pathogens,[17] although the mechanisms by which they work are not completely clear. More importantly, AGPs reduce intestinal disease severity, thus decreasing mortality, while improving feed conversion.[18] In the absence or reduction of antibiotic use, there is a pressing need to better understand the role of bacteria in the intestine as they promote health and overall performance. A meta-analysis showed that the need to use AGPs is reduced when nutrition, housing, and hygiene/biosecurity are optimized.[19] Intestinal health has been of increased interest as poultry nutritionists, veterinarians, and producers have attempted to implement new approaches to be better equipped for the changes in live production practices. Although withdrawing AGPs may reduce the risk of creating on-farm antibiotic-resistant bacteria, the use of therapeutic antibiotics increased during the first year after AGPs were banned in Denmark.[19] Early intestinal development is more critical than ever as a growth promotion method with the future discontinued use of antibiotics. During the first week of life, the gut tissues undergo rapid development, increasing the surface area necessary for optimal absorption of nutrients. Intestinal improvements can be seen as increased villus length and lamina propria thickness.[20] If villus growth is impaired during the first 2 weeks of life, this can lead to a permanent limited digestive capacity, reducing growth potential. The early intestinal environment is aerobic, lacks diversity, and contains mostly facultative anaerobic bacteria including enteric bacteria (e.g., Salmonella, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella) as well as Lactobacillus. Over the course of the first few days, bacterial density increases upward to 1011 bacteria per gram of gut content and includes strict anaerobic bacteria (e.g., Clostridium) and different defined communities in each section of the gut.[21] The microbiome of an animal varies in both the density and species as well as in different sections of the intestine. The intestine at an early age is easily susceptible to disease since there is limited colonization resistance, and typically develops as an animal ages.[22] The balance between bird, intestinal bacteria, and the environment is quite delicate, and imbalance can lead to impairments such as an overgrowth of nonspecific intestinal bacteria, leading to enteritis.[23] Intestinal ballooning causing poor gut integrity and malabsorption can lead to wet litter and poor growth.[23] Both poor gut integrity and wet litter can impact processing efficiency and presence of foodborne pathogens on processed
Impact of Intestinal Integrity on Food Safety
Bird health has a significant impact on processing factors directly relating to food safety. For example, broilers with airsacculitis have increased fecal contamination and increased cuts or tears of the digestive tract during processing (Figures 1 and 2).[24] This is thought to be due to variability in bird size due to some birds not being as healthy as others. This size variability becomes a problem because of the high levels of automation necessary during commercial poultry processing. Each piece of equipment is adjusted to operate based on a specific bird size. When birds with smaller or larger body weights enter the equipment, processes such as opening of the body cavity, viscera pack removal, and crop removal become less efficient and can lead to unintended cutting or tearing of viscera. This allows for intestinal contents, which can contain high levels of foodborne pathogens, to come into contact with carcasses on the processing line. In short, bird health impacts flock uniformity, which then leads to potential impacts on food safety.
There are few comparisons between raw products from chickens fed NAE and conventionally raised birds. When retail chicken breasts were sampled for Salmonella, Campylobacter, and coliforms, no differences in prevalence or antibiotic resistances were observed between organic, antibiotic-free, or conventional products (Figure 3).[25] However, in this study, chicken was purchased at a retail market from a variety of sources. In another study where chickens were all processed at the same plant, Salmonella was isolated more frequently from antibiotic-free chicken than conventionally raised birds.[26] A more comprehensive analysis of the impact of NAE programs on the presence of Salmonella and Campylobacter on ready-to-cook poultry meat could potentially be done by assessing regulatory results from both NAE and conventional programs.
To minimize potential negative food safety impacts of antibiotic-free programs on ready-to-cook poultry products, poultry producers are working toward enhancing and maintaining optimum bird health.  
Dianna V. Bourassa, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor/Extension Specialist in poultry processing in the Department of Poultry Science at Auburn University.
Kim M. Wilson, Ph.D., recently completed her doctoral degree at Ohio State University. 
2. Volkova, VV, et al. 2011. “Associations between Vaccinations against Protozoal and Viral Infections and Salmonella in Broiler Flocks.” Epidemiol Infect 139:206–215.
3. Hofacre, CL, et al. 2018. “An Optimist’s View on Limiting Necrotic Enteritis and Maintaining Broiler Gut Health and Performance in Today’s Marketing, Food Safety, and Regulatory Climate.” Poult Sci 97:1929–1933.
4. Nachman, KE, et al. 2013. “Roxarsone, Inorganic Arsenic, and Other Arsenic Species in Chicken: A U.S.-Based Market Basket Sample.” Env Health Persp 121:818–824.
5. Hofacre, CL, et al. 2007. “Use of Bacitracin and Roxarsone to Reduce Salmonella Heidelberg Shedding Following a Necrotic Enteritis Challenge Model.” J Appl Poult Res 16:275–279.
6. Prescott, JF, et al. 2016. “Experimental Reproduction of Necrotic Enteritis in Chickens: A Review.” Avian Path 45:317–322.
7. Antonissen, G, et al. 2015. “Fumonisins Affect the Intestinal Microbial Homeostasis in Broiler Chickens, Predisposing to Necrotic Enteritis.” Vet Res 46:98.
8. Van Immerseel, F, et al. 2004. “Clostridium perfringens in Poultry: An Emerging Threat for Animal and Public Health.” Avian Path 33:537–549.
9. Wilson, KM, et al. “Comparison of Multiple Methods for Induction of Necrotic Enteritis in Broilers.” J Appl Poul Res in press.
10. Kumar, S, et al. 2018. “Effect of Antibiotic Withdrawal in Feed on Chicken Gut Microbial Dynamics, Immunity, Growth Performance and Prevalence of Foodborne Pathogens.” PLOS ONE 13(2):e0192450.
11. Spring, P, et al. 2000. “The Effects of Dietary Mannaoligosaccharides on Cecal Parameters and the Concentrations of Enteric Bacteria in the Ceca of Salmonella-Challenged Broiler Chicks.” Poult Sci 79:205–211.
12. Cerisuelo, A, et al. 2014. “The Impact of a Specific Blend of Essential Oil Components and Sodium Butyrate in Feed on Growth Performance and Salmonella Counts in Experimentally Challenged Broilers.” Poult Sci 93: 599–606.
13. Fuller, R. 1989. “Probiotics in Man and Animals.” J Appl Bacteriol 66:365–378.
14. Caly, DL, et al. 2015. “Alternatives to Antibiotics to Prevent Necrotic Enteritis in Broiler Chickens: A Microbiologist’s Perspective.” Front Microbiol 6:1336.
15. Lyte, M. 2011. “Probiotics Function Mechanistically as Delivery Vehicles for Neuroactive Compounds: Microbial Endocrinology in the Design and Use of Probiotics.” Bioessays 33:574–581.
16. Vanderpool, C, et al. 2008. “Mechanisms of Probiotic Action: Implications for Therapeutic Applications in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases.” Inflamm Bowel Dis 14:1585–1596.
17. Butaye, P, et al. 2003. “Antimicrobial Growth Promoters Used in Animal Feed: Effects of Less Well Known Antibiotics on Gram-Positive Bacteria.” Clin Microbiol Rev 16:175–188.
18. Dibner, JJ and JD Richards. 2005. “Antibiotic Growth Promoters in Agriculture: History and Mode of Action.” Poult Sci 84:634–643.
19. Jensen, HH and DJ Hayes. 2014. “Impact of Denmark’s Ban on Antimicrobials for Growth Promotion.” Curr Opin Microbiol 19:30–36.
20. Yu, Q, et al. 2012. “Lactobacillus amylophilus D14 Protects Tight Junction from Enteropathogenic Bacteria Damage in Caco-2 Cells.” J Dairy Sci 95:5580–5587.
21. Solis de los Santos, F, et al. 2007. “Gastrointestinal Maturation Is Accelerated in Turkey Poults Supplemented with a Mannan-Oligosaccharide Yeast Extract (Alphamune).” Poult Sci 86:921–930.
22. Kamada, N, et al. 2013. “Control of Pathogens and Pathobionts by the Gut Microbiota.” Nat Immuno 14:685–690.
23. Teirlynck, E, et al. 2011. “Morphometric Evaluation of ‘Dysbacteriosis’ in Broilers.” Avian Path 40:139–144.
24. Russell, SM. 2003. “The Effect of Airsacculitis on Bird Weights, Uniformity, Fecal Contamination, Processing Errors, and Populations of Campylobacter spp. and Escherichia coli.” Poult Sci 82:1326–1331.
25. Mollenkopf, DF, et al. 2014. “Organic or Antibiotic-Free Labeling Does Not Impact the Recovery of Enteric Pathogens and Antimicrobial-Resistant Escherichia coli from Fresh Retail Chicken.” Foodborne Pathog Dis 11:920–929.
26. Park, JH, et al. 2017. “Comparison of the Isolation Rates and Characteristics of Salmonella Isolated from Antibiotic-Free and Conventional Chicken Meat Samples.” Poult Sci 96:2831–2838.

Study identifies rate of outbreaks linked to produce in Brazil
Source :
By News Desk (Oct 30, 2018)
Almost 3,000 people fell ill and nearly 350 were hospitalized in 30 produce-related outbreaks over a six-year period in Brazil, according to researchers.
The study published in Food Quality and Safety identified foodborne outbreaks associated with fruit and vegetable consumption in Brazil from 2008 to 2014. They resulted in 2,926 illnesses, 347 hospitalizations, and no deaths.
Salmonella was the most frequent in causing disease (nine outbreaks) followed by Staphylococcus aureus (seven), E. coli (three), Bacillus cereus (two), and thermo-tolerant coliforms (one). For eight outbreaks the pathogen responsible could not be determined.
The most common food vehicles implicated were generically named as fruits and vegetables (46.6 percent of outbreaks). The term salad was used generically and specifically like salads (two outbreaks), raw/cooked salads (four outbreaks), vegetable salad, tropical salad, Caesar salad, and a raw salad of cabbage and tomato.
Only one outbreak was related exclusively to fruit (fruit pulp), whereas others were linked to cooked carrot, lettuce, cucumber, watermelon/cabbage, and chard/beet.
In Brazil, one of the best-known education tools to help people follow a healthy diet is the Food Guide for the Brazilian Population, which recommends eating three to six servings of fruits and vegetables per day (totaling 400 g/day).
Available annual summary data on reported foodborne outbreaks in Brazil from 2008 to 2014 from the National Sanitary Surveillance Agency (ANVISA) were examined.
The number of notified food and water-borne outbreaks in Brazil between 2008 and 2014 was 5,138. The 30 foodborne outbreaks linked to fruit and vegetables represented 0.6 percent of the total and a yearly average of 4.3 outbreaks.
This average was similar to Canada and New Zealand, which reported yearly averages of three (2001-09) and 5.5 (2002-12), respectively, for outbreaks linked to produce contamination. Corresponding values for Japan and the United States between 2002 and 2012 were higher, with yearly averages of 7.7 and 56.9, respectively (Kozak, et al., 2013; Wadamori et al., 2017).
Researchers said in the majority of foodborne outbreaks in Brazil it is not possible to identify the related food (66.4 percent the food source was ignored or inconclusive).
In 2008 and 2009, 17 outbreaks occurred compared to between 2010 and 2012 when only one in each year was registered.
On average, each outbreak consisted of 100 cases with the largest in 2009 involving 550 infections.
Job refectory (dining rooms) and restaurants/bakeries were the places where contaminated food was most often consumed (seven each). Followed by outbreaks associated with more than one place (five) and the hospital/health units and residences (three each).
The age group from 20 to 49 years old had the most patients.
“This is the age range of the more economically active population, which usually takes meals outside the home, and, perhaps, is the reason why most outbreaks also occurred outside the home,” said researchers.
Probable causes of outbreaks were mostly inadequate storage and handling. Only one was related exclusively to contaminated raw material and was caused by a salad with E. coli
Although there is no way to eliminate microbial foodborne pathogens from fresh produce, there are methods to reduce them, which include physical (brushing, rinsing), chemical (hypochlorite, acidified sodium chlorite, chlorine dioxide, trisodium phosphate, quaternary ammonium compounds, acids, hydrogen peroxide, and ozone), and biological (using microbial antagonists as a biocontrol agent).
Researchers said as the global trend is to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables, it is important to adopt control measures, such as good agricultural and manufacturing practices.
“Efforts should be made to improve the outbreak notification and investigation system and the laboratory capabilities so that biological and food samples may be collected in a timely and correct manner to identify the etiological agent. Also, quantitative data on microbiological hazards in foods are needed if risk assessment programs are to be implemented,” they added.

Poison Squad: The man who pioneered food safety
Source :
By Doug Powell (Oct 29, 2018)
Eric Schlosser writes in this New York Times review of Deborah Blum’s new book, “The Poison Squad,” that a now forgotten chemist at the Department of Agriculture, Harvey Washington Wiley, played a more important role — not only in ensuring the passage of the 1906 food safety bills but also in changing popular attitudes toward government intervention on behalf of consumers.
In 1906 the United States was the only major industrialized nation without strict laws forbidding the sale of contaminated and adulterated food. In their absence, the free market made it profitable to supply a wide range of unappetizing fare. Ground-up insects were sold as brown sugar. Children’s candy was routinely colored with lead and other heavy metals. Beef hearts and other organ meats were processed, canned and labeled as chicken. Perhaps one-third of the butter for sale wasn’t really butter but rather all sorts of other things — beef tallow, pork fat, the ground-up stomachs of cows and sheep — transformed into a yellowish substance that looked like butter.
Harvey Washington Wiley was born in a log cabin on April 16, 1844, a fitting entrance for an American hero. His father was a farmer and a lay preacher in southern Indiana who sheltered escaped slaves as part of the Underground Railroad. Wiley served briefly in the Civil War, studied medicine in Indiana and chemistry at Harvard, and became the first chemistry professor at Purdue University in 1874.
The deliberate adulteration of food had been a problem for millenniums, inspiring government regulations in ancient Egypt, Sumeria and Rome. By the late 1870s, the Industrial Revolution, applied to food processing, provided a variety of new techniques and ingredients useful for committing fraud — artificial flavors, artificial colorings, chemical preservatives. But simultaneous advances in chemistry also facilitated the detection of such fakery. At the request of the Indiana State Board of Health in 1881, Wiley began to study the authenticity of the honey and maple syrup for sale in that state. According to Blum, he used laboratory instruments like the polariscope to uncover that “a full 90 percent of his syrup samples were fakes … and there were ‘beekeepers’ who had not, of late, been bothering to keep bees.” Wiley’s findings soon appeared in Popular Science magazine, and his career as a public crusader was launched.
After being named the U.S.D.A.’s chief chemist in 1882, Wiley spent the next 30 years at the department campaigning for safe food and proper labeling. He supervised a series of investigative reports that gained much public attention, warning about “pepper” made from sawdust, “cocoa powder” containing iron oxides and tin, “flour” laced with clay and powdered white rocks, “whiskey” that was actually watered-down ethyl alcohol tinted brown with prune juice, “coffee” that featured ingredients like sand, tree bark, ground acorns, charcoal and a black powder composed of charred bone. To test the health impact of various additives, he recruited young men to serve as guinea pigs in “hygienic table trials,” serving them questionable ingredients during meals in the basement of U.S.D.A. headquarters — and then observing what happened. Soon known as the Poison Squad, these idealistic volunteers embraced the motto on a sign in their special dining room: “only the brave dare eat the fare.” …
“The Poison Squad” offers a powerful reminder that truth can defeat lies, that government can protect consumers and that an honest public servant can overcome the greed of private interests.

Utah STEC Outbreak Investigated; Petting Zoos and Farms Studied
Source :
By News Desk (Oct 29, 2018)
Public health officials in Utah are investigating an increase in Shiga toxin-producing E. coli infections (STEC) in that state, according to the Utah Department of Health. The source of this Utah STEC outbreak has not been identified, but some patients said they visited farms, corn mazes, and petting zoos before they got sick.
This is nothing new. In the past few years, there have been several E. coli outbreaks linked to those types of attractions. Food safety attorneys Fred Pritzker and Ryan Osterholm warned the public years ago about the potential danger at agricultural tourism venues.
Ruminant animals, such as goats and cows, carry E. coli and other pathogenic bacteria in their intestines, and those animals do not get sick. The bacteria are shed in the animal’s feces, which can then contaminate bedding, fences and rails, gates, and the general environment around the animal. Fred said, “These venues can be problematic. Some large state and county fairs have banned petting zoos because of this issue.”
And in 2016, the law firm of Pritzker Hageman won a $7.5 million verdict on behalf of a child who visited Dehn’s Pumpkins in Dayton, Minnesota. The child suffered severe kidney damage after contracting an E. coli O157:H7 infection. Six other people were sickened in that outbreak. The illness were linked to cows that were in the animal attraction at the farm.
The Utah STEC outbreak has sickened 20 people since October 1, 2018. Patients live along the Wasatch Front and in the Central and Southwestern regions of the state. The patient age range is from 10 months to 71 years old. Eleven of the 20 patients are under the age of 18. Six people have been hospitalized.
Kenneth Davis, an epidemiologist with the Utah Department of Health, said in a statement, “For the past five years, Utah has averaged about 13 cases of STEC during the month of October. An average of 113 STEC cases and 25 hospitalizations are reported each year in Utah. This increase in October is higher than normally expected.”
The symptoms of a STEC infection are severe and dramatic. They include severe and painful stomach cramps, diarrhea that may be bloody, and vomiting. Symptoms usually start a few days after exposure.
This infection can develop into a serious complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), if improperly treated with antibiotics or antidiarrheal medicine, or if the patient is under the age of 5. HUS is a type of kidney failure, and can be deadly. Symptoms of HUS include little urine output, easy bruising, lethargy, and pale skin.
Anyone who visits a petting zoo or farm attraction should carefully practice good hand hygiene. Watch children carefully at these exhibits. Make sure they do not put their hands in their mouths until they have been washed with soap and water.  And never eat or drink around ruminant animals.
If you or a family member visited one of these attractions and has been sick, you may be part of this Utah STEC outbreak. See your doctor.

Food safety events double for INFOSAN in 3Q
Source :
By Joe Whitworth on (Oct 29, 2018)
An international food safety network was involved in double the number of incidents from July to September compared to the previous quarter.
The International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN), managed by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO), was part of 32 food safety events versus 16 from April to June. These events covered 141 WHO member states compared to 32 in the previous quarter.
Peter K. Ben Embarek, INFOSAN management, department of food safety and zoonoses at WHO, told Food Safety News that the rise was mostly due to one incident.
“The increase of countries involved can largely be attributed to the outbreak of listeriosis linked to frozen vegetables from Hungary that were subsequently distributed to 120+ countries, an event in which INFOSAN played a large role in facilitating information exchange between exporting and recipient countries,” he said.
“The number of events INFOSAN manages does not follow specific patterns. We have indeed seen a larger than a usual number of events during the first half of 2018 but without any specific reason identified yet.”
The INFOSAN Secretariat worked with the European Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) and its own members in exporting countries to identify and share details with recipient countries.
INFOSAN said the outbreak served as a reminder to consumers that frozen raw vegetables should be cooked or heat-treated properly before consumption. Greenyard ran the frozen vegetable factory linked to the Listeria outbreak that affected 54 people in six countries, killing 10 of them. Production has since restarted.
There were 19 events involving a biological hazard:
six with a physical hazard that was metal (four times) and glass (twice)
four involving a chemical hazard that was iodine (twice), boron and histamine (once each)
two involving an unknown hazard, and
one for an undeclared shellfish allergen.
Biological hazards in Q3 were eight notices for Salmonella and one each for Anisakis, Bacillus cereus, Clostridium botulinum, Clostridium perfringens, Cronobacter sakazakii, Cyclospora cayetanensis, E. coli, Listeria monocytogenes, Pseudomonas, Staphylococcus aureus and Vibrio parahaemolyticus.
Ben Embarek said biological hazards were a mixture of outbreaks and events where there was contamination of a food product internationally distributed and that posed a hazard to public health.
“In general, INFOSAN will become involved in an event when there is either a foodborne outbreak involving more than one country or happening in one country and linked to a contaminated food that has been internationally distributed, or in an event where contaminated food that could cause a public health risk has entered international trade and needs to be recalled.”
Categories most common in the 32 events were herbs, spices and condiments as well as snacks, desserts and other foods (both six); fish and other seafood as well as milk and dairy products (both five); bottled drinking water, foods for infants and small children and vegetables and vegetable products (all twice), cereals and cereal-based products, fruit and fruit products as well as nuts and oilseeds (all once). In one case the food category was unknown.
 “Salmonella has frequently been the most common pathogen involved in INFOSAN events for a number of years, this is a continuing trend. We manage on average about one event per year involving herbs, spices, and condiments. It is too early to be able to explain the current increase,” added Ben Embarek.
Most INFOSAN activities happen within a closed environment, so from the outside, it is not clear what the network does and level of activity. INFOSAN quarterly summaries highlight what it is doing on a day-to-day basis to external audiences and raise awareness about the importance of international aspects of food safety events. They are aimed at INFOSAN members and international organizations, the public, government agencies, and academia.
In July, the INFOSAN Secretariat attended the 41st Codex Alimentarius Commission meeting in Rome to host a side event. The role of the network in the Listeria outbreak in South Africa linked to ready-to-eat meat and Salmonella outbreak traced to Lactalis infant formula made in France was discussed.
In the same month, a workshop about the creation of an Arab Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (ARASFF), developed under the Arab Food Safety Initiative for Trade Facilitation (SAFE) was held in Tunis, Tunisia. Twenty-five participants from 13 countries in the Eastern Mediterranean and northern Africa attended to discuss the future of ARASFF and the interface it will have with INFOSAN.

“Regional networks can serve to strengthen INFOSAN globally in several ways, including as important sources of food safety intelligence. However, we need to ensure complementarity of such systems and avoid the creation of parallel communication tracks, especially during food safety emergencies,” added INFOSAN.

Food Safety Talk 167: Will There Be Ninjas?
Source :
By Ben Chapman (Oct 26, 2018)
Don and Ben are back in their respective normal podcasting chairs and talk about the Episode 166 recording in Geneseo, Canadian Thanksgiving, cooking beef and getting together with other food safety nerds. They talk a bunch about risk management decisions and how temperatures get established. The conversation goes to a large Salmonella outbreak in Canada linked to frozen chicken things that look like they are fully cooked. They go back to Thanksgiving talk (American this time) and then how to communicate cooking times/temperatures for products that are supposed to be ready-to-eat (or look ready-to-eat) and what happens if pathogens end up in those products (like frozen ham biscuits). The show ends on some chicken washing talk.
Episode 167 can be found at iTunes or here.
Show notes so you can follow along at home:
Drake (musician) – Wikipedia
Thanksgiving (Canada) – Wikipedia
Vincent Massey – Wikipedia
Brussels sprout – Wikipedia
Columbus Day – Wikipedia
Massey Ferguson | Tractors and Farm Equipment
The Hatch Act of 1887 (Multistate Research Fund) | National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Fate of Salmonella Inoculated into Beef for Cooking | Journal of Food Protection
Waterproof Pocket Digital Thermometer PDT300 from Comark thermopen
Public Health Notice — Outbreaks of Salmonella infections linked to raw chicken, including frozen raw breaded chicken products –
ninja costume – Google Search
Boys Shadow Ninja Costume | Party City
This year, roast the turkey while you sleep | The Splendid Table
Turkey Confidential 2015 | The Splendid Table
How do I clean my CamelBak Reservoir? — CamelBak
The effects of cleaning and disinfection in reducing Salmonella contamination in a laboratory model kitchen. – PubMed – NCBI
The effects of cleaning and disinfection in reducing Salmonella contamination in a laboratory model kitchen – Barker – 2003 – Journal of Applied Microbiology – Wiley Online Library
Johnston County Hams Recalls Ready-To-Eat Ham Products Due to Possible Listeria Contamination
The Based Messiah on Twitter: “I feel like this video should be back on the TL”
R.E.M. Athens Itinerary

Being the Third Eye in a Plant with a Problem - Listeria, Salmonella, Extraneous Materials, or Worse?
Source :
By Carl Custer, Ph.D. (Oct 16, 2018)
Being the Third Eye in a Plant with a Problem - Listeria, Salmonella, Extraneous Materials, or Worse?
I’ve been in hundreds of plants. Because my profession is food microbiology, the reason was usually to solve a microbiological problem. Through observation and perseverance, most microbiological problems can be identified and solved with simple corrections and diligent oversight.
Bernie Surkiewitz, a mentor to many, conducted microbiological surveys for both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and for The U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection service (FSIS) for decades. The best advice he offered was to watch what workers’ hands touch: That’s where cross-contamination happens. A classic example was a burrito line with a contamination problem. The workers practiced excellent hand sanitation because they hand-rolled the burritos and used a dab of water to seal them (this was before cheap plastic gloves). Watching their hands showed that when they left the line, they grabbed their stool to scoot it away. When they returned to the line, they grabbed the stool again to bring it close to the line. A quick look at the stool seat bottoms showed festering burrito dough on the seat bottoms. (That’s something to think about when you sit down and scoot your chair closer to a restaurant table.)  
Based on Bernie’s advice, one of my usual tactics when visiting a plant is to go out on the floor and watch the workers. Before Listeria, in ready-to-eat plants, I could bring a newspaper or magazine and pretend to read it so the workers would begin to ignore me. Now, I stand still and look bored. In slaughter plants, the workers are too busy to watch me. I watch where workers’ hands and their tools touch, and how they sanitize their hands when entering—and leaving—the area. Particularly in ready-to-eat plants, I watch what their frocks or aprons touch.
Another practice is to visit overnight sanitation and the morning pre-op. Some plant managers will give you a funny look and remark, “That starts at 4:00 a.m.”…or earlier. But that’s part of the job when trying to track down the source of a problem. As a consultant, you serve at the pleasure of the management, and someone will often accompany you to the line; that is an advantage. They will know the plant’s outline, product flow, and sanitary procedures.
In the “olden days” when I worked for FSIS, a plant visit the night before was a must. I’d check in with the overnight inspector, head for the floor, and chat up the sanitation crew (some Spanish fluency was often handy) and see if they were doing something special. Once the answer was “Si, some hombre from DC is coming mañana.”
Especially for Listeria monocytogenes problems, I watch the sanitation crew’s high-pressure hose operators. It is amazing how high they can throw floor debris. Look at overhead pipes and conduits for dangling bits (I have a great picture of a fat strip dangling from a pipe 15-feet overhead). Run your fingers over horizontal surfaces to detect grit or worse. It’s a good demonstration for the plant management. If they are not following you closely, bring them to the issue and show them.
For slaughter plants, high-pressure hose operators can cause problems. In one example, the worker hosed down the finished cow carcass and shoved it toward the cooler. Then he raised the pressure and cleared the floor, blowing floor stuff toward the carcass entering the cooler. Neither plant management nor the FSIS inspector had ever noticed that practice. This also happened in other plants.
Thus, the “third eye” in the title of this article. When entering a plant as a new observer, there is no risk of being inured to the usual practices, and you have a more sensitive eye for risky practices.
Although many problems are caused by worker practices, sometimes it’s the physical facility, especially when L. monocytogenes contamination is the problem. Walls between cold and warm areas, if not properly sealed on the warm side, permit condensation and become a great site for Listeria harborage. Doors to ready-to-eat areas allow foot-borne and wheel-borne bacteria to enter unless there is a sanitizer bath…with sufficient active sanitizer. Entrances with intermittently squirting foam tempt people to jump across the area—the solution is to require everyone, including managers, to wear waterproof boots. Pipes and conduits entering a ready-to-eat area can loosen with time and, because they are usually close to the ceiling, whatever is behind them can float down.
In addition to the facility, there is the equipment. Bruce Tompkins’ papers[1,2] and the industry guidelines cover these issues thoroughly. If you are sampling, sample after the equipment runs for 2 hours or so to enable whatever survived the pre-op sanitizer to work itself out again. Use appropriate Listeria control guidelines.
An aid to performing plant audits are the assessment checklists by the recognized “schemes” of the Global Food Safety Initiative, particularly the Safe Quality Foods and the British Retail Consortium. They are thorough and comprehensive. However, a colleague once quipped, “If you’re not careful, you forget to look up and see what’s happening.”
Finally, there is the paper work. While I have seen many well-written Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) plans poorly implemented on the processing floor, I’ve seen a few programs that missed an essential step, such as inactivation of biological hazards or the microbiological quality of the ingredients.
David Mossel’s “Wilson’s Triad”[2–5] is a great standard by which to judge HACCP programs. Wilson’s Triad is based on Sir Graham Wilson’s publications on milk safety in the 1930s. There are five basic points, the first three of which are heat pasteurization, cooling, and post-pasteurization contamination prevention. Applying all types of processes, those would include treatment to inactivate biological hazards, stabilization, and post-treatment hygienic practices. The last two of the five are microbiological quality of ingredients, and control of the first four steps. This is not simpler than the seven steps of HACCP but just another way at looking at the HACCP program.
Number four brings up the microbiological quality of ingredients. That became a critical part of dairy microbiology in the 1930s and still is. However, I’ve found that ignoring the quality of the ingredients is common for ground raw products and for slaughter. In the early years of the Salmonella Performance Standard for ground beef, the failures were primarily because the grinder failed to consider what came in on the trim. The 1997 FSIS HACCP model didn’t mention the importance of trim.[6] However, the 1999 version included, “Certification from suppliers that product has been sampled for Salmonella and meets performance standards. CCP 1b.” Both versions cited Surkiewicz’s 1975 paper[7] but left out a key conclusion:
“…Because this survey shows that the bacterial content of patties depends primarily on the bacteriological quality of the trimmings, the examination of patties at plant level measures the accumulative bacterial increase of meat from time of slaughter to packaged trimmings and cuts at time of use, rather than conditions of sanitation during fabrication of patties from the trimmings.”
An example was a midwestern grinder that failed his second Salmonella set. He told me, that when he failed the first set, he followed the 1997 HACCP model. He double-checked sanitation, and replaced some equipment and even the wall coverings. When he failed the second set, he noticed that every time he failed, he used trim from Plant A. Stopping that source fixed the problem. Months later when we visited Plant A, a cow slaughterer, because of a Salmonella set failure, I checked his grinder section. He didn’t use his own trim but purchased it from another slaughterer.
Some slaughter plants also ignore the microbiological quality of the animals they process. That is critical for meeting the Salmonella Performance Standard because what comes through the loading dock will leave at a 1–2 D (or log10) reduction. There are papers that claim up to a 5 D reduction, but in practice, most interventions are only 1–2 D. Thus, one “super shedder” animal will spread the “blessings” throughout the processing line. Poultry with their empty feather follicles are a special problem. Mechanical defeathering presses the carcass, pumps the cloacal contents, and the rubber fingers press some of the contents into the empty follicles. There they are protected from the interventions in the rest of the line.[8]
Mechanical dehairing in hog slaughter is similar with increased fecal bacterial loads after dehairing and polishing (search Salmonella dehairing).
Beef slaughter, because the surface-to-volume ratio is greater and because the hides are removed, has less contamination per weight. Hair has been recognized as a source of bacterial contamination for decades. Pulling the hide forms dry aerosols that float throughout the facility. Thus, hide washing has become popular with some. However, a wet hide hitting the floor can form wet aerosols. In beef slaughter, crouch down and look up for aerosols.
In summary, when looking for problems or performing an audit, take a fresh look, be a “third eye”. Use the assessment checklists but don’t forget to look up. Whether you are an outside consultant or the owner/manager, watch workers’ hands and look at entrances into the ready-to-eat area: look at people, pipes, and conduits. Attend the overnight or early morning sanitation and pre-op inspection. Chat with the workers and listen for any concerns, beliefs, and questions. Use your knowledge of HACCP and ask these questions: What are the ingredient specifications, what are the hazard interventions, what are the post-intervention procedures, how are these verified and documented, and are they scientifically validated? That last sentence is a 3-day HACCP course without the details. Your observations can solve problems and prevent future problems. “An ounce of prevention will keep the government and customers’ lawyers away.
Carl Custer, Ph.D., is an independent food microbiology consultant for EAS Consulting Group, LLC.
1. Tompkin, RB, et al. 1992. “Control of Listeria monocytogenes in Processed Meats.” Food Aust 44:370–376.
2. Tompkin, RB. 2002. “Control of Listeria monocytogenes in the Food Processing Environment.” J Food Prot 65(4):709–725.
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