FoodHACCP Newsletter

Food Safety Job Openings


02/01. Manager Corporate Quality Assurance - Manitowoc, WI
02/01. Quality Assurance Supervisor – Fredericksburg, PA
02/01. Quality Systems Technician – Fredericksburg, PA
02/01. Laboratory Technician – Fredericksburg, PA
01/30. Food Safety Laboratory Scientist - North Little Rock, AR
01/30. Food Safety Associate Auditor - Las Vegas, NV
01/30. Microbiology Food Safety Intern - Georgia, Vermont
01/28. Food Safety Professional - Manhattan, KS
01/28. Regional Food and Safety Specialist Job - Southington, CT
01/28. Food Safety Manager - Hood River, OR

02/04 2019 ISSUE:846


Pork Industry Seeking to Improve Swine Herd Health and Survivability
Source :
By QA Staff Edited (Feb 4, 2019)
Purdue researcher part of effort being led by the Iowa Pork Industry Center.
A Purdue University researcher is part of a project being led by the Iowa Pork Industry Center at Iowa State University that is looking for ways to improve swine herd health and survivability to increase animal well-being and pork producers' profits. Kara Stewart, a Purdue assistant professor of animal sciences, will focus primarily on neonatal piglet survival from birth until weaning. The project also includes scientists from Kansas State University, and the National Pork Board (NPB) and the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) are providing nearly $2 million for the five-year study.
"Leaders in the swine industry recognized that pig survivability was a multifactorial issue that would require teams of researchers from various disciplines to work together to research methods to improve livability in pigs," Stewart said. "Indiana Pork also has agreed to contribute money to these projects because they see the value in decreasing herd mortality rates and improving animal welfare in our industry."
It is estimated that 30 to 35 percent of pigs born die before reaching the market, creating significant economic losses for farmers. Those mortality rates have been increasing across all phases of production.
“The members of the animal science and welfare committees of the National Pork Board recognize improving pig health, welfare and productivity are keys in extending pig survivability,” said NPB Director of Animal Science Chris Hostetler. “While this project is slated to last five years, it is the vision of the committees that this effort will fundamentally shape the way pigs are raised to provide safe, wholesome pork far into the future.”
Under the project, the causes of mortality on commercial swine farms will be studied by an interdisciplinary team of nutritionists, physiologists, veterinarians, well-being and behavior experts, geneticists, toxicologists, Extension specialists and economists. The goal is to fully understand the biological mechanisms that limit pig and sow survivability, how they interact and how they can be effectively improved.
“We know that improving survivability will increase the efficiency and environmental sustainability of the whole industry, but solutions need to be economically feasible,” said FFAR Scientific Program Director Tim Kurt.
“Increasing sow and piglet survivability is one of the most intractable issues facing the pork industry," said FFAR Executive Director Sally Rockey. "While this is a clear animal welfare problem, it is also one of the most important productivity and economic issues for producers. FFAR is pleased to be part of this important research that unquestionably will have a multitude of positive impacts.”
Stewart will specifically investigate management procedures for newborn piglets that can increase their survivability. "I also will be looking at the impacts of inducing parturition, the farrowing process and colostrum production from the mother and how these factors impact piglet survival."
The project’s overarching goal through effective research and extension activities is to improve swine survivability by 1.0% or more each year. Increasing the wean-to-finish survival of animals by 1.0% would represent an estimated gain in productivity of approximately 1.2 million pigs a year for the nation’s swine industry.
The research team objectives include:
Evaluate producers’ management attitudes and economics associated with improving survivability in U.S. swine production.
Identify the causes of mortality on U.S. sow farms to support development and implementation of targeted strategies to maximize survivability.
Define factors that influence wean-to-finish survivability and implement management strategies based on production-based research.
Develop national extension, outreach and education resources and strategies to encourage adoption and implementation of management practices to improve survivability in pork production.
The project also will train future industry leaders, including graduate students and staff, and is expected to employ undergraduate and veterinary students through internship programs.
For more information, visit

Food Safety and Packaging: How to Keep Up With Consumer Concerns
Source :
By Katja Tuomola (Jan 3, 2019)
Food Safety and Packaging: How to Keep Up With Consumer Concerns
The main function of packaging is to protect its contents. This may sound simple, but what does it really mean? Packaging has to look good with an appealing design for the consumer to make a purchasing decision. It also needs to be designed for proper converting and printing. But when it comes to food packaging, safety has to come first—meaning no harmful chemical, smell, or taste should transfer from packaging materials to the food.
Consumers worldwide are increasingly well-informed of the content of food and the amounts of chemicals they are exposed to. As more research data becomes available, there is steadily growing awareness and understanding of issues such as the chemicals contained in recycled fiber and its possible effect on humans.
Recycled fiber—particularly from materials collected from consumers—contains residues of printing ink, adhesives, lacquers, and other chemicals that should not come into direct contact with food and are known to be harmful to human health. One example of a potentially harmful chemical group in recycled pulp is the fluorinated substances used as grease barriers in paper packaging. Several fluorinated compounds are suspected of being carcinogenic, harmful to the immune system, and endocrine disrupters. Another rising cause for concern in recent years has been mineral oils, as harmful components of these have been found in foods that were packaged in materials made from recycled fiber.
When looking at paper and paperboard legislation globally, we see many regional differences. While most countries do not directly prohibit the use of recycled fiber, legislation and various country-specific recommendations do limit its use. Recycled fiber that is to be used as a food contact material must undergo a number of laboratory tests to ensure that the packaging material cannot release harmful substances into the product in amounts that would pose a risk to human health. If impurities or unwanted chemicals are a risk to consumer health, typically a barrier layer must be used to protect the food from contamination.
In the U.S. recycled paper can be used for food contact provided that it will not adulterate food in any way or pose a risk to human health. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration gives a set of guidance on the purity of the recycled pulp, and it must not contain poisonous or deleterious substances. Certain states also have their own legislation for food contact materials. In general, they need to be taken into account when using recycled fiber packaging for food.
There is no harmonized EU legislation on food contact materials for paper and board products. Food contact materials are covered by EU regulation that stipulates in general terms that materials that come into contact with foodstuffs must not enter the food in quantities that could endanger human health, cause unsuitable changes in the food composition, or impair its sensory properties. Being that this is the most specific level of legislation, the national laws and recommendations of the respective countries are applied.
For example, the use of recycled fiber for packaging that comes into direct contact with foodstuffs is forbidden in Switzerland, with some exceptions such as fruit that is peeled before eating. In Italy, the only product groups that can be packaged in such a way that they come into direct contact with recycled fiber packaging are product groups that are not subject to migration testing under the country’s legislation. (“Migration” in this context refers to the transfer of chemicals from packaging material to a product, or vice versa.) Among the products that are exempt from such testing are dry, fat-free foods.
In China, the use of recycled fiber is not directly prohibited by legislation, but legislation requires that paper and board materials that come into direct contact with foodstuffs need to pass certain laboratory tests. Materials that contain recycled fiber do not pass all of these tests.
The Key to Clean Packaging
“Clean packaging” is free from unknown chemicals and can be safely used in direct food contact. All the production chemicals and additives need to be approved for food contact, and the manufacturing needs to be certified and controlled. Materials need to be tested in external accredited laboratories to verify safety and compliance with regulations. Furthermore, they need to be carefully packaged to prevent contamination during transportation, and the same diligence needs to be followed for converting, packaging, and transport of ready goods. The product safety chain needs to be unbroken up to the time it reaches the consumer. When sourcing packaging materials, fresh fiber is the cleanest with traceable, naturally pure qualities.
Brands and packaging manufacturers should make sure their suppliers have a solid food safety process in place.
Are all the raw materials—from wood to chemicals and additives—fully traceable and compliant with regulations?
Does the production facility employ food safety management systems?
Is the product compliant for intended end-use according to the regulations and recommendations in the planned marketing area (e.g. Europe, America or Asia?)
Are the product’s organoleptic properties tested regularly during production?
The most important function of food packaging is to keep the contents and consumers safe. Everything else in the packaging world can be negotiated—price, delivery terms etc. But with safety, no compromises can be made. Product safety is non-negotiable.
Katja Tuomola, business development manager, Metsä Board, has over 18 years’ experience in the pulp and paper industry, and specializes in the formulation and application of chemicals for pulp and paper mills. Currently, she works with business development, but prior to that she was responsible for global product safety and food contact compliance of Metsä Board paperboard products.

Two raw milk cheeses suspected in 2015-16 Salmonella outbreak
Source :
By Joe Whitworth (Feb 1, 2019)
Researchers have provided more detail on one of the largest Salmonella Dublin outbreaks in France in recent years linked to raw milk cheese.
In January 2016, the National Reference Center for Salmonella reported to Santé Publique France, the national public health agency, an increase in Salmonella Dublin infections across the country, with 37 isolates identified between mid-November 2015 and mid-January 2016, compared with 10 during the same period in the previous two years. Between November 2015 and March 2016, 83 cases were identified.
Two different bovine raw milk kinds of cheese, Morbier and Vacherin Mont d’Or, were the most likely vehicles of transmission for the outbreak, according to researchers writing in the Eurosurveillance journal.
Results suggested that at least two outbreaks of Salmonella Dublin occurred during the same period and potentially originated from different sources.
The investigation led to a reinforced control plan for processing plants of raw milk cheeses to prevent future outbreaks.
An increase in salmonellosis incidence was seen in cattle at the end of summer 2015, according to Santé Publique France which could explain the rise of contaminated cheese batches in autumn and winter 2015.
Researchers said probable low levels of contamination in the implicated cheeses may have led to false negative test results, possibly allowing some tainted batches to enter the market.
The median age of cases was 70 years (range: 1 to 94), 44 were female and respondents came from 12 of the 13 regions in mainland France, with 19 cases from the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region. Ten deaths were reported with no confirmation that Salmonella Dublin infection was the cause. Among cases with available data, 41 of 60 were hospitalized.
Whole genome sequencing (WGS) and multilocus variable-number tandem repeat analysis (MLVA) were performed to identify microbiological clusters and links among cases, animal and food sources. Use of MLVA and WGS subtyping methods allowed identification of different clusters and potential vehicles of infection.
Researchers compared different clusters of cases with other cases (case-case study) and controls recruited from a web-based cohort (case-control study) in terms of food consumption.
They interviewed 63 of 83 cases and 2,914 controls completed a questionnaire. Both studies’ indicated successive Salmonella Dublin outbreaks from different sources between November 2015 and March 2016.
Twelve producers were identified as the potential origin of cheeses consumed by cases. The trace-back investigations linked one Morbier maker and three Vacherin Mont d’Or producers, to 11, five, four and three cases, respectively. All these firms were located in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, the Eastern part of France.
In the case-control study, cases of distinct WGS clusters were more likely to have consumed Morbier or Vacherin Mont d’Or.
Based on the results, the Ministry of Agriculture launched the reinforced control plan.
The group of producers of Morbier and Vacherin Mont d’Or cheeses implemented an action plan, including testing for Salmonella of batches of cheese sold since February 2016, more regular farm visits by veterinarians and detection and containment of infected cattle.
It also involved a mission from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food to support milk industry professionals in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region to identify and recommend better practices for detection and management of contaminated raw milk products and creation of a working group with experts on Salmonella issues from different organizations. The Morbier processing plants union reinforced sanitary protocols, including more frequent testing of milk.





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CDC gets a break from Listeria outbreaks
Source :
By Dan Flynn (Feb 1, 2019)
Last year’s two Listeria outbreaks are over. And it puts the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in an enviable position with no currently active Listeria outbreaks.
Among the foodborne diseases, Listeria is known for its high fatality rate. According to CDC, an estimated 1,600 people get listeriosis each year, mostly from eating food, with death the result for about 260.
When two or more people get the same illness from the same contaminated food or drink, the event is called a foodborne disease outbreak. CDC went most of last year without an active Listeria outbreak to investigated.
Then on Oct. 3, 2018, it learned Johnston County Hams Inc. in Smithfield, NC had recalled ham products for possible contamination with the Listeria bacteria. The outbreak associated with the Johnston County production was declared over on Dec. 18, 2018, but not before one of the four infected people died.
The public also learned of last year’s second Listeria outbreak from a recall. On Nov. 20, 2018, ready-to-eat pork products were recalled for possible Listeria contamination by Long Phung Food Products. Four people in four states were sickened and hospitalized, but all survived. CDC announced that the second outbreak was over on Jan. 29, 2019.
And that left CDC with no active Listeria outbreaks to investigate.
Since both of last year’s Listeria outbreaks involved meat products, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) assisted CDC in the investigations as did state public health and regulatory officials.
The recalled Long Phung Food Products included all pork patty rolls produced on various dates from May 21, 2018, to Nov. 16, 2018. An undetermined amount of recalled pork patties were shipped to distributors and retailers throughout the nation. In closing out the outbreak, CDC said it is still possible contaminated product could be in home freezers.
CDC told FSIS about a cluster of cluster of listeriosis illnesses that were “closely related” on Oct. 22, 2018. The investigation linked the Listeria monocytogenes illnesses to the ready-to-eat pork products produced by Long Phung Foods.
Four people in four states were infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes. The Listeria specimens from the four infected individuals were collected from July 1, 2017, to Oct. 24, 2018. Both the epidemiologic and laboratory evidence pointed to the Long Phung products as the likely source of the outbreak.
Whole genome sequencing of investigative samples collected from the Long Phung Foods facility on Nov. 19, 2018, were closely related genetically to Listeria monocytogenes from the ill people, FSIS reported.
All four victims were women, ranging in age from 35 to 84. Pregnant women and their newborns, adults over age 65, and people with the weakened immune system are more likely to get listeriosis.
Anyone with a higher risk for Listeria infections should not eat refrigerated pate or meat spreads from a deli or meat counter. Avoid eating hot dogs, lunch meats, cold cuts, other deli meats or sausages unless they are heated to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
The public health investigation used the PulseNet system to identify illnesses that may have been part of the outbreak. PulseNet is the national subtyping network of public health and food regulatory laboratories coordinated by CDC.
Matching illnesses to the outbreak strain is accomplished with DNA “fingerprinting” of Listeria bacteria using whole genome sequencing (WGS). Illnesses from a common source of infection are closely related genetically.
According to CDC, anyone who thinks they may have stored contaminated pork in a refrigerator or freezer should thoroughly wash and sanitize all drawers and shelves. Listeria bacteria is sometimes very difficult to remove.
Long Phung’s parent company, known as the 165368 C. Corporation, announced this list of recalled products.
CDC used the same tools–DNA fingerprinting, PulseNet, and whole genome sequencing (WGS)–to name Johnston County Hames as the source of Listeria contamination in 2018’s first Listeria outbreak.   That led to the great ham recall of 2018, which was known for removing such name hams from the market as:
Johnston County Hams, Inc. Country Style Fully Cooked Boneless Deli Ham
Ole Fashioned Sugar Cured The Old Dominion Brand Hams Premium Fully-Cooked Country Ham with sell-by dates from 4/10/2018 to 9/27/2019
Padow’s Hams & Deli, Inc. Fully Cooked Country ham Boneless Glazed with Brown Sugar
Premium Fully-Cooked Country Ham Less Salt Distributed by Valley Country Hams, LLC. with sell-by dates from 4/10/2018 to 9/27/2019
Goodnight Brothers Country Ham Boneless Fully Cooked
The outbreak led to the recall of hams that were produced between April 3, 2017, through Oct. 2, 2018.
The four people stricken by the first outbreak were from 70 to 81  years of age, half male and half female.   All four required hospitalization and one, a Virginia resident who lived at an assisted living facility, died.
Through routine inspections, deli ham samples were collected from Johnston County Hams in both 2016 and 2018.  The product from both years was found closely related genetically to Listeria strain that caused the outbreak infections.  The results provided more evidence that people infected in the outbreak were contaminated from eating the deli ham.

Food Safety Testing Market To Exceed USD 8.04 Billion In 2021
Source :
By Hiren Sam (Jan 30, 2019)
On Food Safety Testing Market To Exceed USD 8.04 Billion In 2021
Having a plethora of players such as 3M Company, Biocontrol Systems Incorporated, Bio-Rad Laboratories Incorporated, Roka Bioscience, Douglas Scientific, Agilent Technologies Incorporated, Ecolab Incorporated, and IDDEX Laboratories INC among others, the Global food safety testing market is set to witness a huge growth in the years to come.
Worldwide, food safety is a huge concern for users owing to the stable danger of food-borne diseases, thereby having a towering effect on food safety testing market. Food safety testing is essential to attain a certificate of analysis of ready-to-eat foods and raw food items at various phases of food processing. Users are offered with food safety tags on food items to guarantee safety and quality of food items. This in turn has elevated the significance of the global food safety testing market.
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As per the analysts at Zion Market Research, the worldwide requirement for food safety testing market was capitalized at USD 4.8 Billion in 2015. This is likely to cross USD 8.04 Billion by the end of 2021 and is expected to jump at a CAGR of 7.8% from 2016 to 2021.
Rising Awareness Of Food Safety To Boost The Global Market In The Forecast Period
The global food safety testing market has been showing incredible development with rising food-borne diseases all over the world. The growth of the global food safety testing market is boosted by increasing user awareness related to food safety. Regions all over the world are experiencing food disease epidemic instances in addition to the due occurrence of chemical contaminant and microbial pathogens. The major players of the global food safety testing market are experiencing increasing requirement for food safety testing due to health concerns and elevating awareness among users. Mergers and acquisitions among market players is also one of the major reasons for the market growth. For instance, in July 2018, Eurofins Scientific acquired Laboratorios Ecosur, a food testing firm with laboratories in Turkey and Spain.
GMO Testing To Be Biggest Piece Of Global Food Safety Testing Market Pie
The global food safety testing market is classified on the basis of contaminant, technology, region, and application. Different techs employed for testing food safety comprise rapid technologies as well as traditional technologies. Owing to some restrictions of conventional food safety techniques, rapid technology for food testing added for a noteworthy share of the food safety testing market in 2015. The pathogen is a top contaminant section in food safety testing market. In addition to this, GMO testing sector is likely to be the quickest developing sector in the years to come. The major application wrapped under this survey comprises dairy, meat & poultry, fruit & vegetables, process food, and others. Amongst all, meat & poultry were the biggest application sectors that added up for a noteworthy share in 2015 for global food safety testing market and are likely to be the quickest developing sector in the years to come.
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Increasing Government Regulations To Help North America Hold Its Vanguard Position In The Global Food Safety Testing Market
Cutting to the chase, North America ruled the food safety testing market earlier in 2015. The largest piece of pie for this region can be credited to different factors such as increasing government regulations and elevated prevalence of food disease. Europe is one of the primary regions in the food safety testing market owing to elevated awareness about food safety policies by the government in this area. Asia Pacific displays an area with a huge potential for food safety testing market owing to augmented stress on food securities in this area.
The global food safety testing market is segmented as follows:
By Technology
By Contaminate
By Contaminate
Meat & poultry
Process food
Fruit & vegetables
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By Region
North America
The U.S.
Asia Pacific
Latin America
The Middle East and Africa

USDA appoints three food safety deputies
Source :
By (Jan 30, 2019)
Dr. Mindy Brashears, Naomi Earp and Dr. Scott Hutchins began their new positions on Jan. 29.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has named Dr. Mindy Brashears as Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety, Naomi Earp as deputy assistant secretary for civil rights, and Dr. Scott Hutchins as deputy under secretary for research, education, and economics for USDA. Because these are deputy positions, they do not require Senate confirmation. The three began in their new positions Jan. 29, 2019.
The three previously had been nominated by President Donald Trump for Senate-confirmed positions at USDA. While the Senate Agriculture Committee favorably reported all three nominees, their nominations expired without receiving confirmation votes by the end of the 115th Congress in early January. The President has resubmitted their nominations to the Senate in the 116th Congress for more senior roles: Dr. Brashears was nominated for Under Secretary for Food Safety; Earp was nominated for Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights; and Dr. Hutchins was nominated for Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics.
While in their deputy roles, they will not be serving in “acting” capacities for the positions for which they have been nominated. As a result, they will not be able to exercise the functions or powers expressly delegated to the Senate-confirmed positions. As deputy under secretary for research, education, and economics, Dr. Hutchins will oversee the office of the chief scientist, with Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young continuing to serve as acting chief scientist.
“At USDA, we’ve been engaged in fulfilling our mission without all of our players on the field, so we want to get these strong, qualified leaders in the game,” Perdue said. “I want to thank these three for their patience, as their professional lives have been placed on hold for months during their nomination process. Now, they will get to work right away on behalf of the American people. Nevertheless, I urge the Senate to act on their new nominations as quickly as possible, so we can have them in the positions for which they were intended in the first place.”
About the deputies:
Dr. Mindy Brashears is a professor of food safety and public health and the director of the International Center for Food Industry Excellence at Texas Tech University. Dr. Brashears’ research program focuses on improving food safety standards to make an impact on public health. Her work evaluates interventions in pre- and post-harvest environments and on the emergence of antimicrobial drug resistance in animal feeding systems. These efforts have resulted in commercialization of a pre-harvest feed additive that can reduce E. coli and Salmonella in cattle. She also leads international research teams to Mexico, Central and South America to improve food safety and security and to set up sustainable agriculture systems in impoverished areas. She is past-chair of the National Alliance for Food Safety and Security and of the USDA multi-state research group.
Naomi Earp, J.D. is a retired career civil servant with more than 20 years of experience in federal equal opportunity policy, charge processing, complaint handling, and employment law. She entered federal services as a GS-9 career employee and worked her way to the senior executive service level prior to appointments as chair and vice chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission under President George W. Bush. Throughout her career, Earp has been a strong advocate for labor-management partnership and cooperative business models to raise awareness and address both disparate treatment complaints and allegations of systemic discrimination. Her federal equal opportunity, civil rights compliance, and public policy career includes positions with the U.S. Departments of Commerce and Agriculture and the National Institutes of Health. Born and raised in Newport News, Virginia, Earp received a B.S. in social work from Norfolk State University, an M.A. from Indiana University, and a Juris Doctorate from the Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law.
Dr. Scott Hutchins formerly served as the global leader of integrated field sciences for Corteva Agriscience and as an adjunct professor at the University of Nebraska. Previously, he served as president of the Entomological Society of America. Dr. Hutchins earned his B.S. in entomology from Auburn University, M.A. from Mississippi State University, and Ph.D. from Iowa State University.

Computer program aids food safety types with pathogen testing
Source :
By Doug Powell (Jan 30, 2019)
Cornell University scientists have developed a computer program, Environmental Monitoring With an Agent-Based Model of Listeria (EnABLe), to simulate the most likely locations in a processing facility where the foodborne pathogen Listeria monocytogenes might be found. Food safety managers may then test those areas for the bacteria’s presence, adding an important tool to prevent food contamination and human exposure to the pathogen through tainted food.
The computer model, which is described in the Jan. 24 issue of Scientific Reports, has the potential to be modified for a wide range of microbes and locations.
“The goal is to build a decision-support tool for control of any pathogen in any complex environment,” said Renata Ivanek, associate professor in the Department of Population Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences and senior author of the paper. The study was funded by the Frozen Food Foundation through a grant to Martin Wiedmann, professor of food science, who is also a co-author of the paper.
The researchers, including first author Claire Zoellner, a postdoctoral research associate in Ivanek’s lab, want to eventually apply the framework to identifying contamination from pathogens that cause hospital-acquired infections in veterinary hospitals or E. coli bacteria in fruit and vegetable processing plants.
Food safety professionals at processing facilities keep regular schedules for pathogen testing. They rely on their own expertise and knowledge of the building to determine where to swab for samples.
“Whenever we have an environment that is complex, we always have to rely on expert opinion and general rules for this system, or this company, but what we’re trying to offer is a way to make this more quantitative and systematic by creating this digital reality,” Ivanek said.
For the system to work, Zoellner, Ivanek and colleagues entered all relevant data into the model – including historical perspectives, expert feedback, details of the equipment used and its cleaning schedule, the jobs people do, and materials and people who enter from outside the facility.
“A computer model like EnABLe connects those data to help answer questions related to changes in contamination risks, potential sources of contamination and approaches for risk mitigation and management,” Zoellner said.
“A single person could never keep track of all that information, but if we run this model on a computer, we can have in one iteration a distribution of Listeria across equipment after one week. And every time you run it, it will be different and collectively predict a range of possible outcomes,” Ivanek said.
The paper describes a model system that traces Listeria species on equipment and surfaces in a cold-smoked salmon facility. Simulations revealed contamination dynamics and risks for Listeria contamination on equipment surfaces. Furthermore, the insights gained from seeing patterns in the areas where Listeria is predicted can inform the design of food processing plants and Listeria-monitoring programs. In the future, the model will be applied to frozen food facilities.

Recent drug-resistant Brucella incidents are behind CDC’s latest HAN warning
Source :
By News Desk (Jan 30, 2019)
The new national public health warning about the risk of exposure to drug-resistant Brucella from raw milk is over three incidents dating back to 2017, according to the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta issued its latest warning about the antibiotic-resistant Brucella RB51 strain on Jan. 23.
The warning was in response to the third and most recent case involving a New York resident who drank raw milk from Miller’s Biodiversity Farm in Quarryville, PA and who then contracted the RB51 strain.
State health departments in New York and Pennsylvania are currently investigating the Brucella RB51 exposures from the raw milk dairy. It’s possible that Miller’s Biodiversity Farm supplied raw milk to the public in as many as 19 states, according to that CDC Health Alert Network (HAN) notice.
Two other recent confirmed cases of Brucella RB51 occurred in July and November of 2017. The victims were both women and residents of Texas and New Jersey.  CDC did not believe those two incidents were related.
The HAN notice CDC issued in 2017 was over raw milk produced under the Udder Milk brand name by unknown dairy farms for distribution in Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island.
The New York resident learned of the Brucella RB51 diagnosis in November 2018 after drinking raw milk from the Pennslyvania dairy, and milk samples from the farm also tested positive for Brucella RB51. Anyone who drank raw milk or consumed other raw milk products from the dairy since 2016 is at risk of exposure, according to CDC.
Brucella strain RB51 is a live-attenuated cattle vaccine strain, which can be shed in milk and can cause infections in humans who consume milk that is not pasteurized. It is resistant to rifampin and penicillin. CDC recommends both doxycycline and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole as first-line treatment. The diagnosis should involve a blood culture.
Among the symptoms of brucellosis are fever, sweats, general malaise, loss of appetite, headache, fatigue, muscle, and joint pain, along with potentially more severe complications like endocarditis and neurologic symptoms. Pregnant women are at risk of miscarriage.
RB51, according to CDC,  is a weakened strain of Brucella abortus bacteria used to vaccinate young female cattle. Intensive vaccination campaigns have nearly eradicated B. abortus, which can cause abortions in cattle. The bovine vaccine reduces the risk of people contracting brucellosis from infected cows. However, in rare cases, vaccinated cows can shed RB51 in their milk. The only way to avoid this potential exposure to RB51 is to drink pasteurized milk. The heat of pasteurization kills RB51, other types of Brucella, and a variety of other disease-causing bacteria.
Human brucellosis cases in the United States have fallen from about 3,000 per year in the 1950s to 100-150 –per year in recent years. Most cases of brucellosis in the U.S. are caused by strains other than B. abortus and occur in people who traveled to countries where Brucella is more common and drank contaminated milk or had contact with infected animals.
CDC reports that among cases who acquired brucellosis in the U.S., infections occur from contact with feral swine or, more rarely, dogs, or because of accidental exposures among lab workers testing samples from ill people.

Living With “Big 8” Food Allergies
Source :
By QA Staff (Jan 30, 2019)
NYT article discusses food allergen issues and solutions.
A New York Times article by Senior Editor for Digital Training Eric Athas who has a five-year-old son allergic to almonds and hazelnuts, discusses the difficulties of grocery shopping for those with food allergies. The article includes a number of stories of real people facing the challenges – and life-threatening repercussions – of food allergies, and what is being done by consumers, advocacy groups, and manufacturers.
For example:
A push is being made by advocacy groups to mandate sesame labeling, with FDA currently considering whether to add sesame to the list of major allergens. “Sesame should be included as one of the top allergens that needs to be disclosed on labels,” said Lisa G. Gable, chief executive of Food Allergy Research & Education Chief Executive Lisa G. Gable, in the article. Sesame labeling is already mandated in Canada, the European Union and Australia.
Although “precautionary allergen labeling,” is intended to alert consumers to some allergen risks, the labels are unregulated, so their meanings differ from company to company. The article notes a 2017 study, published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, which showed that consumers make “risk assessments” based on the words used in this kind of labeling. “We’re making consumers decide, based on the wording of that precautionary allergen label, what seems safe for themselves or their child, and I think that’s a huge issue,” said Dr. Ruchi S. Gupta, a professor of pediatrics at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago and an author of the study. Thus, consumers want regulations to include labeling for possible cross contact of allergens.
The article also notes the number of food recalls that involve erroneous labeling, with food made using one of the eight major allergens not properly labeled. In 2018, about one-third of F.D.A. recalls involved prepackaged foods that were erroneously labeled, according to data compiled by the agency.
To provide the manufacturer viewpoint, NYT cites Nestlé USA Director of Food Safety David C. Clifford, as stating that the key is applying “allergen management” across the expansive and complex operation, and describing Nestlé’s approach as “objective, science-based, risk-based.” Clifford’s team also conducts allergen safety training throughout the company, he said. “It’s a very serious responsibility that we have to feed the public, and the responsibilities around these systems extend horizontally across the organization.”
The article also cites a statement from The Hershey Company, which runs a training program for employees that “includes video interviews with allergic children and their families who face the challenges of allergen management on a personal level every day of their lives.”
Advising parents to reach out directly to food manufacturers, even if it is time-consuming, the author notes, Manufacturers like these cater to the allergy community, using branding to make it clear their foods are clear of allergens.”

Dr. Mindy Brashears Named USDA’s Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety
Source :
By Staff (Jan 29, 2019)
Dr. Mindy Brashears Named USDA’s Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has selected a new senior leader for food safety at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Perdue named Dr. Mindy Brashears as Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety. This position does not require Senate confirmation.
“At USDA, we’ve been engaged in fulfilling our mission without all of our players on the field, so we want to get these strong, qualified leaders in the game,” Perdue said, also commenting on two other senior leaders he appointed to non-food safety related roles. “I want to thank these three for their patience, as their professional lives have been placed on hold for months during their nomination process. Now, they will get to work right away on behalf of the American people. Nevertheless, I urge the Senate to act on their new nominations as quickly as possible, so we can have them in the positions for which they were intended in the first place.”
Brashears and two others had been nominated by President Donald Trump for Senate-confirmed positions at USDA. While the Senate Agriculture Committee on a bipartisan basis favorably reported the nominations, they expired without receiving confirmation votes by the end of the 115th Congress in early January. The President has resubmitted their nominations to the Senate in the 116th Congress.
The three have been re-nominated for more senior roles than the ones Perdue today selected them to fill in their respective mission areas at USDA. Dr. Brashears was nominated for Under Secretary for Food Safety.
While in her deputy role as selected by Perdue, Brashears will not be serving in “acting” capacities for the positions for which she has been nominated. As a result, she will not be able to exercise the functions or powers expressly delegated to the Senate-confirmed positions.
Brashears will begin working at USDA on Tuesday, January 29, 2019.
Dr. Brashears is a professor of food safety and public health and the director of the International Center for Food Industry Excellence at Texas Tech University. Dr. Brashears’ research program focuses on improving food safety standards to make an impact on public health. Her highly acclaimed work evaluates interventions in pre- and post-harvest environments and on the emergence of antimicrobial drug resistance in animal feeding systems. These efforts have resulted in commercialization of a pre-harvest feed additive that can reduce E. coli and Salmonella in cattle. She also leads international research teams to Mexico, Central, and South America to improve food safety and security and to set up sustainable agriculture systems in impoverished areas. She is past-Chair of the National Alliance for Food Safety and Security and of the USDA multi-state research group.

Snacking: A Booming Trend in the American Lifestyle
Source :
By Gina R. (Nicholson) Kramer, RS/REHS, and Megan Doran
Snacking: A Booming Trend  in the American Lifestyle
Everybody needs to eat to have energy to sustain life. As a result, food is a necessity, but some people enjoy eating so much that they consider it a hobby or a pastime. The 21st century has seen great population growth and extremely busy lifestyles, making the availability of food all the more critical. Busy lives and not enough time to cook from scratch have made it so that most people no longer go home and cook a meal for themselves and their families.[1] Without the ability to put in the time to cook, Americans are resorting to convenience foods. The most common form of convenience eating is snacking. Over the years, snacking has taken on many different definitions, but snacks were originally intended to be smaller portions of food eaten to fight off hunger between meals. The concept of three square meals daily is becoming obsolete because nowadays people snack for reasons besides feeling hungry, such as getting rid of cravings, staving off boredom, improving metabolic rates, alleviating stress, boosting nutrient intake, controlling weight, and simply because they believe that eating often is good for one’s health.[2] Other reasons people may choose to snack are celebrations and special occasions.[3] It has also now been estimated that 94 percent of people living in the United States consume one or more snacks every day.[4] Because snacking has become so popular in recent years, this article will focus on popular trends in the food industry as well as quality and safety issues that may result from these new trends.
Snacking Trends
Responsible Snacking
Recent trends in snacking demonstrate how this concept has really evolved in recent years. First, as described by Forbes,[4] most consumers, especially the millennials, often feel responsible for what they do for themselves as well as their community and the planet. When deciding to purchase snacks, people typically ask themselves if what they buy will better themselves or the communities they represent. As a result, consumers are choosing to snack on foods that are clean, organic, less processed, contain fewer ingredients, lack genetically modified organisms, additives, or antibiotics, and are locally grown even if the snack costs more money. There have also been snacking trends associated with certain times of the day such as consuming healthy, energizing, and light snacks in the morning and eating sweet and savory snacks in the evening.[4]
The Hazards of Food Allergy[7]
Food allergies are very common and can affect just about anybody. In March 2018, a 12-year-old girl living in Georgia had a fatal allergic reaction to a granola bar that may have contained peanuts. Before this incident occurred, she had tested positive for a peanut allergy when she was 3 years old and had had several less severe reactions since the diagnosis. In March, she was enjoying a granola bar (a brand that she had eaten before), but she started to experience anaphylaxis while riding the school bus. She did not have an EpiPen available because she did not feel as if she needed one from previous less severe reactions. As her symptoms began to worsen, the bus driver brought her to the nurse’s office of another school, where she was treated with EpiPen injections until an ambulance arrived. The ambulance took the girl to a hospital, but the reaction was so severe that she had to be flown to another hospital. Doctors did everything they could, but sadly, the happy and energetic girl who enjoyed biking and ice skating, and could light up a room wherever she went passed away 2 days later. How she got exposed to the peanuts in the first place is still a mystery, but it is assumed that it probably had something to do with the peanut allergen not being recognized on the label of the granola bar she was eating on the school bus. The lesson learned from this story is to be consistent and thorough with labeling allergens, and if any error occurs, the food should be recalled.
Flavors with Global Influence
People these days are also more open to the experience of unusual flavors and are more willing to eat foods that are bold, spicy, and culturally diverse.[4] One category of snacks that has seen a huge change in flavor preferences is meat products, because people are now choosing flavors like Korean barbecue, sweet barbecue, bourbon barbecue, black cherry barbecue, and seasoned barbecue as opposed to cayenne, basil citrus, tangy barbecue, and red pepper.3 With new flavors comes world influence, and some areas of the world that have influenced flavor in recent years include Asia, Central America, and even the United States and Canada.[3] Three popular Asian flavors that have grown significantly in popularity are cardamom and tikka masala from India and matcha powder from Japan. Other Asian flavors rising in popularity are garam masala, pistachio, rose water, saffron, and tamarind. Some popular Central American flavors are avocado, guava, green olive, key lime, mango, paprika, dark rum, sour orange, and sofrito, while one popular Central American snack is plantain chips. Popular flavors from the United States and Canada are watermelon, rhubarb, Cape gooseberry, maple, huckleberry, molasses, and brown butter. New flavors have resulted in greater variety and availability as there has been a growth in the number of places for consumers to meet their treat needs with the addition of specialty candy stores across America, the vending evolution, and the impact brought on by quick service and fast casual restaurants. These trends are all new and exciting but will not maintain popularity if they are of low quality or people are getting sick.
Quality vs. Safety
Although snacks are one of the safest foods in the market, it is still critical to implement the necessary procedures to attain the highest level of food safety and quality.5 Even though quality and safety go hand in hand, it is important to remember that not all food of poor quality is unsafe, but all unsafe food is of poor quality. An example from the snack industry is the oxidation and staling of potato chips, which cause the food to taste terrible but will not allow pathogens to grow due to low water activity, making it an issue of quality only. An example of a safety issue would be spices that were irradiated improperly, whether it be too much irradiation or irradiation from an unapproved source resulting in a radiological hazard. Too little or no irradiation can lead to microbiological hazards such as Salmonella, Clostridium botulinum, and Escherichia coli O157:H7.[6]
A lot of popular snack foods are made from peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, milk, and eggs, which are six out of the eight most common allergens that must be labeled if present in any foods sold in the United States. This labeling also applies if a food is processed in a manufacturing facility that processes any of these allergens. Since allergens can be introduced into foods by accident and some people who suffer from food allergies may not have the time to read the label’s fine print, it is crucial to have an allergen management program in many areas of food processing (see “The Hazards of Food Allergy[7]”). These areas of food processing include vendor approval, product development, proper labeling, receiving, warehousing and storage, production control, scheduling, cleaning and sanitizing, control of rework, product identification and recalls, and education of management and staff.[5]
Mycotoxins and Acrylamide
Allergens are not the only chemical hazard to be aware of, as snacks that are grain- or seed-based could contain mycotoxins, the worst of which is aflatoxin, which causes liver disease. Companies that use baking, frying, or oven cooking to produce snacks must be aware of acrylamide because the ingestion of too much of this compound can be carcinogenic.5 Acrylamide has hit the snack food industry very hard over the past decade, necessitating the use of alternative processing.
Post-Lethal Handling
Although most snack foods can be viewed as perfectly safe, it is important to avoid mishandling, abuse after processing, incorporation of contaminated ingredients, and failure to manage certain processing steps prior to consumption.[5] One pathogen that has been common in snack foods is Listeria monocytogenes.[8] Some of these foods are ice cream and hummus due to their high water activity and storage at refrigeration temperatures. L. monocytogenes post-lethal processing contamination has caused multi-year recalls and outbreaks within the ice cream and hummus categories. Companies have invested millions of dollars in mitigation, control, and prevention strategies. This includes but is not limited to new construction, new equipment, enhanced sanitation programs, and hiring additional experienced food safety/quality assurance team members. One company even stopped production and outsourced to comanufacturers of their product because the pathogen was found to be resident within the processing plant and unable to be effectively mitigated after multiple deep-clean sanitation and disinfectant applications.
In the last few decades, there have been several recalls related to Salmonella in everyone’s go-to snack, peanut butter, which demonstrates that some conditions, like low water activity, make it nearly impossible to remove a pathogen once the product is exposed.5 Other nut butters have also been involved in serious pathogenic outbreaks and recalls.
Another snack item that may seem extremely safe is beef jerky; however, some pathogens can survive the harsh drying process used to make this food, and killing off these pathogens would require additives such as nitrites which are known to form carcinogenic compounds.9 Beef jerky is a new artisanal movement enabling small processors to open for business.
Many artisanal jerky makers are market-ing their product as “handcrafted, using only the finest ingredients” and “hand-cut like it should be.” Hand-cutting animal proteins allows for various thicknesses (even within the individual slices), causing the standard dehydration process to produce different levels of water activity measured in the end product. But indulging in artisanal jerky because it is touted as a healthy, high-protein, gluten-free, and low-calorie snack does not reduce the concern of possible pathogen growth if the jerky is not processed safely.
Validation of Procedures
A very important aspect of food safety, even with snack foods, is validating one’s procedures by looking at previous studies to see if the procedures are actually effective at slowing down or killing pathogens (see “Salmonella-Tainted Cereal[10–14]). For example, a cookie producer might ask if the heating process is enough to kill the Salmonella from the eggs or flour. Also, validating the sanitation procedures for specific food types and manufacturing processes is an important step toward keeping snack foods safe and consistent in quality. Updating validation studies on a regular basis ensures that current technology and science are understood and implemented in the processing procedures. What worked 20, 15, 10, or even 5 years ago may not work in the current food safety and quality environment.
Snack Foods for Busy Lives
Snack foods are an established part of life. They have even become a popular meal replacement for many individuals on the go. As this market sector continues to grow and expand in unique flavors and food offerings, one thing is clear: Pathogens will find a way to survive in this food segment. Food safety and quality experts need to stay diligent, because the expectation, or more likely the assumption, of the consumer is that any food sold in retail is safe to eat. 
Gina R. (Nicholson) Kramer, RS/REHS, is the executive director of Savour Food Safety International.   
Megan Doran is an Ohio State University student and summer intern at Savour Food Safety International. She will graduate in December 2018 with a B.Sc. in agriculture, food business management.
Salmonella-Tainted Cereal
When one hears the word cereal, he or she will often think of a breakfast food, but cereal is also very popular as a snack food item, especially for toddlers. Unfortunately, if you pack cereal as the “easy” snack for your little one(s), you may want to be careful which cereal you choose. One popular cereal in particular, Kellogg’s Honey Smacks, was the recent subject of a recall associated with the bacterial pathogen Salmonella, which was reported in 33 states.[10] For those unfamiliar with this product, it is a puffed-wheat, sugarcoated cereal. In addition, most people are somewhat familiar with Salmonella, but some people do not know that this bacterial genus is responsible for the majority of foodborne illnesses linked to bacteria, is often present in improperly cooked eggs and poultry, and is known to have more than 1,000 strains. Despite the Honey Smacks recall issued on June 14, 2018, making the sale of this product illegal in the United States, it was reported about a month later that cereal containing traces of Salmonella was still available for sale at certain grocery stores.    
Food Safety News[11] reported that, “Investigators have laboratory confirmation that the outbreak strain of Salmonella Mbandaka is in the manufacturing facility and in unopened packages of the cereal. As of June 12, the food manufacturer—which Kellogg’s hired to make the Honey Smacks—stopped producing the product.” While no individuals died, 34 out of the 135 people who became sick were hospitalized as a result of the outbreak.[10] Although Salmonella is not usually deadly, it can make its way through the intestines to the bloodstream and to the rest of the body.[12] As a result, Salmonella victims can suffer serious side effects such as diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps, and these effects can last from 4 to 7 days on average.10 The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a statement that warned people not to eat Kellogg’s Honey Smacks no matter what package size or sell-by date and also encouraged people who have recently consumed the cereal with no side effects to discard their cereal or return it for a refund.[13] In addition, it was recommended that if a bag of cereal is missing its original box and the owners have forgotten the name and type of cereal, the consumers should dispose of the cereal; for those who keep their cereal in containers other than cereal boxes and bags, they also should discard the cereal and clean and sanitize the container with water and dish soap.[14] CDC requested that anybody who sees Kellogg’s Honey Smacks cereal being sold notify his or her local U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) consumer complaint coordinator.[12] CDC and FDA investigated the source of the contamination with the help of state and local health officials throughout the U.S., and identified specific problems at the manufacturing plant.
In conclusion, it is important that people avoid eating Kellogg’s Honey Smacks marked with a “best if used by” date before June 14, 2019, as well as any similar cereals and always be aware of the news, because no one knows when their favorite snack food may be the subject of a recall.
3. SNAXPO IRI Emerging Trends.pdf.






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