FoodHACCP Newsletter

Food Safety Job Openings


02/15. Food Safety & Quality Assurance Specialist - Township of South Brunswick, NJ
02/15. Food Safety Manager - Portland, OR
02/15. Food Safety and Quality Specialist - Milwaukie, OR
02/13. Quality Assurance Lab Technician- Food Manufacturing - Bellevue, WA
02/13. Food Safety/Quality Assurance Coordinator - Catering Operations - Houston, TX
02/13. Food Safety Specialist - Gresham, OR
02/11. Food Safety Compliance Manager - Doral, FL
02/11. QA Food Safety Manager - Mount Olive, NJ
02/11. Food Safety Director - Austin, TX


02/19 2019 ISSUE:848


FDA tells Michigan juice producers to put food safety measures in place
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By News Desk (Feb 18, 2019)
The Food and Drug Administration cited a Michigan company known for its raw and cold-pressed juices for violating federal food safety law in a warning letter recently made available to the public.
The Feb. 1 letter references an inspection from Aug. 15-31, 2018 and says juices at the production operation Panther James LLC in Berkley, MI, are adulterated because the facility doesn’t have a plan for and documentation of proper Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point procedures. Such procedures are, in part, designed to prevent the growth of microorganisms that can cause foodborne illnesses.
Although the warning letter was addressed to the Panther James LLC business entity, it was sent to the attention of sisters Caitlin G. James, CEO; Jennifer E. James, COO; Jessica M. James, Chief Business Development Officer; and Julie James, Chief Marketing Officer.
The women’s company produces Drought brand juices, which are sold across the Midwest, according to their company’s website, in retail stores, wholesale quantities, and direct to consumers via online sales.
The FDA warning acknowledges receipt of a letter from the James sisters in September 2018, but says problems at the juice production plant were not resolved.
“We have reviewed your written response and concluded that it does not adequately address the inspectional observations concerning the lack of HACCP plans and the lack of 5-log treatment of the pertinent microorganism,” according to the FDA warning letter.
The juice products that are adulterated and therefore ineligible for sale because of the HACCP violation include “Apple Lemon Ginger, Beet #1, Beet #2, Beet #3, Carrot #1, Green #1, Green #2, Green #3, Green #4, Carrot Orange Beet, Pear Cayenne, Apple Thieves, Watermelon, Pineapple Ginger, Ginger Shot, Turmeric Shot, and Immunity Potion,” the FDA inspectors reported.
FDA officials also said the processing parameters and critical limits used by the juice producers are not designed for their products.
“Upon review, we note that many of the literature citations listed in (your) letter do not appear to be directly applicable to your process,” accordint to the FDA warning letter.
“… when juice processors rely on a published study as validation for their processing parameters, the product composition and critical operational parameters used in the study should closely match the processor’s actual product and process. It is unclear how the products in the studies were compared with your products. We recommend you work with your process authority to ensure your HPP process is validated for each of your products and their specific characteristics, compositions, and pertinent microorganisms.”
If the juice producers do not promptly correct the violations, the FDA can pursue legal action without further notice, including, without limitation, seizure and injunction. The company owners have 15 working days from their receipt of the letter to file their response.

Food safety funding again secure — this time through Sept. 30, 2019
Source :
By Dan Flynn (Feb 18, 2019)
Spending authority to keep the federal government running through Sept. 30 was put into place in time to avert another partial government shutdown, which would have begun Saturday if the budget deal had not been approved.
It means the Fiscal Year 2019 budget process is finally wrapped up, and it is time to ask about food safety funding. Congress and President Trump had to reach an agreement on the FY2019 budget to avoid another partial government shutdown. The budget deal covers the seven appropriations bills the president did not sign by the beginning of FY2019, which was Oct. 1, 2018. A total of 12 appropriations bills are involved in funding federal government operations.
Some food safety appropriations were in the unfinished work. During the recent partial government shutdown, agencies were stretched to keep the food safety umbrella in place. Now that Congress and the president have agreed to $333 billion in additional FY2019 spending, the agencies finally know how much they have to work with for the remainder of the fiscal year.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said he was pleased with the funding for USDA, but said it does not go far enough.
“I am pleased that Congress has passed, and President Trump has signed, funding for USDA for the remainder of fiscal year 2019. We will be moving at full speed on all of our responsibilities, making good on our motto by doing right and feeding everyone,” Perdue said.
The Secretary endorsed President Trump’s declaration of national emergency at the southern border but also said farmers and ranchers battered by “monumental storms” and the Forest Service rocked by wildfires are going to require more from Congress.
USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) continued to provide on-site services at 6,433 federally regulated private slaughter and processing facilities during the recent shutdown.
Most FSIS personnel are deemed “essential” during government shutdowns because, without their continuous on-site inspections, the fresh meat and poultry industry would have to shut down. The agency:
FSIS employs more than 9,200 people;
Regulates more 250,000 different meat, poultry, and egg products;
Inspects 155 million head of livestock annually;
Inspects 9.45 billion poultry carcasses annually;
Conducts 6.9 million food safety and food defense checks annually;
Condemns each year more than 467.6 million pounds of poultry; and
Condemns more than 216,313 head of livestock during post-slaughter inspections.
“To accomplish its functions, FSIS employees are located at over 6,400 slaughtering and processing establishments and import houses, and other federally-regulated facilities, ” USDA budget documents say. “Headquarters is responsible for overseeing the administration of the program and ensuring that scientific and technological developments are incorporated into inspection procedures.”
For FY2019, the budget deal provides FSIS with $1.272 billion. On a year-to-year basis, FSIS budgets are among the most uniform in the federal government. In fiscal year 2018 FSIS spending totaled $1.259 billion. In FY2017, the FSIS budget was $1.279. About $1 billion each year involved discretionary spending.
With the FY2019 budget, funding for the Codex Alimentarius Office was transferred from Food Safety to the Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Mission Area. And, according to the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, $8 million is included in the budget deal for farmer food safety training.
Just how strange federal budget issues can become was illustrated in the recent crisis by the fact that the Food and Drug Administration funding was allowed to lapse, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was funded ahead of the Oct. 1, 2018, deadline. Both are agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
The uninterrupted funding meant CDC could continue to investigate past outbreaks, but the FDA was hamstrung in trying to identify new ones. The budget deal put FDA back in business with authority to spend $3.068 billion in discretionary budget authority and $2.516 billion from certain user fees for a total of $5.584 billion.
The total does not include “permanent, indefinite user fees” for some things including food and feed recalls.
For the money, FDA is expected to continue what it did last year, and the conference report did not accept proposed funding reductions, including produce safety cooperative agreements with the states.
The budget agreement provides $2.8 million more for food safety; $5 million more to deal with food safety outbreaks, $500,000 to test imported seafood for antibiotic resistance; $2 million for Standard of Identity and Product labeling; and $1.5 million for consumer education and biotechnology outreach.



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A multidimensional approach to food safety
Source :
By Poonam Khetrapal Singh (Feb 15, 2019)
Unsafe food causes a staggering range of diseases. From diarrhoea to cancer and to hepatitis, food containing harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemicals is a major threat to public health, both globally and in the WHO South-East Asia Region. Every year, an estimated 420,000 people die worldwide due to foodborne diseases, with the South-East Asia Region accounting for a disproportionate share—some 175,000.
Tackling the problem is more important than ever. The globalised nature of modern food chains, alongside emerging hazards such as antimicrobial resistance and climate change, makes the threat of foodborne diseases increasingly acute. Apart from the potential for foodborne diseases to harm public health within and between countries, their occurrence can also compromise development, trade, nutrition and food security. Informal food production at the community level, meanwhile, poses an ongoing challenge, with basic hygiene, adulteration and falsification key concerns.
Countries across the region have been active in addressing the issue. Since 2015, seven of the region's 11 countries have conducted in-depth assessments of their foodborne disease surveillance and response capacity. All have strengthened their national Codex structure—the standards and guidelines created by the Codex Alimentarius Commission to promote food safety and protect consumers, especially in the context of international trade. Notably, with the support of WHO and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), simulation exercises have been carried out to test region-wide coordination and communication, with the International Health Regulations (IHR 2005) anchoring all proceedings.
Progress continues. As a show of commitment, more than 30 representatives from nine of the region's countries are attending WHO-supported conferences on the future of food safety in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in February and in Geneva, Switzerland in April. Each event will have a significant impact on a range of food-safety-related issues (both globally and in the region), from dealing with present challenges to aligning food safety strategies across sectors and borders.  
Immediate action is both possible and necessary. As outlined in the region's Flagship Priorities and the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda respectively, emergency preparedness must be scaled up, and safe and healthy food made accessible to all. To achieve both, several high-impact interventions should be made.
First, food safety management and regulation frameworks should be strengthened. To do this, multi-sectoral action that involves all stakeholders—from food business operators, both formal and informal, to consumers, academics, scientists and the media—is crucial. By actively engaging each of these groups, food safety authorities have the best chance of achieving the integrated management of food supply chains and ensuring any weaknesses are addressed as a matter of priority. Importantly, each stakeholder must know their responsibilities and the standards and regulations to which they are accountable.
Second, a risk-based approach to monitoring food safety should be developed and implemented in each of the region's countries. To that end, monitoring compliance with food safety and quality regulations should begin at the primary production level, with strong partnerships forged between inspection officials and primary producers to identify potential risks and find ways to mitigate them. This collaborative approach, which should begin at the primary producer level and end at the point of sale, is the best way to enhance buy-in among all stakeholders. It is also the best way to ensure compliance.
Third, foodborne disease surveillance should be strengthened region-wide. The first step towards securing food safety is knowing when, where, why and how foodborne hazards and resulting illnesses occur. To make that happen, member states region-wide should fully implement the strategies outlined in WHO's manual on strengthening the surveillance of and response to foodborne diseases. That includes the integrated surveillance of antimicrobial resistance in foodborne bacteria. In addition, there is strong potential to increase engagement with the International Network of Food Safety Authorities (INFOSAN) via its communication platforms, as well as to enhance coordination between national INFOSAN and International Health Regulations (IHR) focal points.
And fourth, investing in all aspects of food safety should be better prioritised. Advocacy is crucial to ensure high-level leaders understand that investing in food safety protects and promotes public health as well as sustainable development more broadly. This is especially the case as rapid changes in food production techniques occur, new technologies are adopted, dietary shifts proceed, and antimicrobial resistance and climate change emerge as significant hazards. Substantial, well-thought-out investments (for example in developing food safety legislation and policy, enhancing risk-based inspections and compliance enforcement, or improving laboratory services) are crucial to strengthening and accelerating region-wide progress.
There is strong support to achieve this objective. At both the regional and global levels, WHO, FAO and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) have established a tripartite coordination mechanism to support food safety activities. As part of that tripartite, WHO will continue to support the region's member states to reduce food-related illness and death and diminish the risk of national and transnational foodborne disease outbreaks. Like the process of producing food itself, securing food safety is both science and art. Each must be mastered, and safe and healthy food made accessible to all, all of the time.

There is no food security without food safety
Source :
By José Graziano da Silva (Feb 15, 2019)
Many developing countries import a significant share of the food supply for their population, with some relying almost entirely on food imports to ensure food security.
Food security for all is a cornerstone of the United Nations 2030 Agenda, which recognises that global sustainable development can only be achieved if hunger and all forms of malnutrition are eradicated (Sustainable Development Goal number 2).
Nevertheless, the international community must be aware that food security does not only mean that enough food is produced and that all people have access to it. It is also fundamental that all food is safe for consumption. That is: there is no food security without food safety.
Globally, food-borne illnesses affect 600 million people and cause more than 420,000 deaths each year according to an assessment by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Children bear the most tragic toll, both in terms of mortality and due to stunting, which affects 150 million children under the age of five and is often caused by dangerous microbes or parasites that creep into their meals.
Last year, for example, a lethal outbreak of Listeria was responsible for more than 180 deaths in South Africa, almost half of them young children. The contamination originated in a food-processing company that exported to 15 countries.
The costs of unsafe food go far beyond human suffering. Contaminated food hampers socioeconomic development, overloads healthcare systems and damages economies, trade and tourism of a country.
Economic opportunities of the international food market are lost to countries that are unable to meet international food safety standards. The World Bank reckons that food safety mishaps cost developing countries more than US$ 100 billion a year.
An increasingly globalised food supply means that risks from unsafe food can rapidly escalate from a local problem to an international emergency, exposing populations worldwide to food hazards.
Many developing countries import a significant share of the food supply for their population, with some – such as the Pacific islands – relying almost entirely on food imports to ensure food security.
Therefore, it is absolutely fundamental that countries invest in food safety. While many countries have sophisticated food-safety tools and systems, many do not.
In the rapid evolution of science, technology and communication today, as well as changes in agriculture, environment and consumer behaviors, authorities everywhere need to keep vigilant, share information and resources, and find ways to make sure all stakeholders contribute to effective outcomes.
Unfortunately, food-borne illnesses are particularly likely to spread via foods that have strong nutritional qualities - fiber-rich salad ingredients for example - and public fears about their consumption can lead to greater consumption of hyper-processed foods that exacerbate the growing global problem of obesity with an enormous toll on health and lives.
The impacts of climate change are also undermining the safety of food. For example, the risk of aflatoxin – a carcinogen found in staple crops in tropical areas where hunger rates tend to be high –will expand as temperatures rise and rainfall patterns change.
Mitigating such risks is vital, especially to vulnerable rural communities. Food contaminated with antimicrobial-resistant organisms can also be a source of human exposure.
So the stakes are high, and there is no alternative to investing wisely and robustly in this area.
In 2019, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is co-organising two major international conferences to discuss the future of food safety The first one will take place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 11 and 12 February, in a partnership between FAO, WHO and the African Union.
It will highlight the importance of food safety to fight all forms of malnutrition and to promote sustainable development. The second conference will take place in Geneva in April, which FAO is co-organising with WHO and the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
It will address the importance of strengthening food safety standards for promoting international trade.
FAO works in many fronts to promote food safety. One of the most important is the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme implemented by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, which is an international inter-governmental food standards setting body.
Its standards are published as the Codex Alimentarius. This “food code” covers the entire production chain, allowing governments to establish science-based, internationally acceptable standards in order to establish criteria for food to ensure safety and harmonise trade food despite new challenges and threats that continue to emerge.
Codex has worked on food safety and trade for over 50 years. Since 1963, Codex has developed hundreds of internationally recognized standards, guidelines and codes of practice.
It has been recognised by WTO since 1995 as the benchmark standard for national food safety regulations and the basis for international food trade. Codex is, therefore, the invisible link between those working in the food supply chain and the consumer.
FAO also assists countries in drafting or amending legislation relevant to food safety and quality, as well as in providing assistance through legal and institutional assessments; supporting legal reform processes; and promoting capacity development activities for lawyers and regulators.
Food safety requires a participatory approach. From production to consumption, safeguarding our food is a shared responsibility – we must all play our part.

Promoting Food Safety Upstream: FDA And The Produce Safety Rule
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By Tommy Tobin (Feb 14, 2019)
Roughly one in six Americans gets sick from foodborne illnesses each year. According to the CDC, more than 125,000 people get so sick from the food they eat that they require hospitalization. Starting this spring, the FDA is increasing its inspections and oversight over the nation’s produce in efforts to further fight foodborne illness.
The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was passed in 2011 to improve the nation’s ability to prevent and address food safety issues. As part of FSMA’s reforms to America’s food safety system, the FDA will soon begin routine inspections pursuant to the Produce Safety Rule. Officially known as “Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption,” the Produce Safety Rule was promulgated in its final form in 2015 and provides for a variety of compliance dates depending on producer size and type of produce. Per the FDA, the rule is “all about keeping food safe for consumption” and reducing sources of contamination.
The nation’s food safety system works best when it prevents issues before they cause outbreaks. In a co-authored statement, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb stated that the preventative measures in the Produce Safety Rule are part of “a new and modern approach to regulation that promised to bring significant benefits for consumers.” These measures include agricultural water testing for potential contamination of feces, health and hygiene training for farmworkers, and new provisions regarding the use of raw manure as an amendment to soil.
Food safety risks are higher for certain foods. A CDC study found that nearly half (46%) of foodborne illnesses were attributable to produce, particularly leafy vegetables. Just this past November, the CDC issued a broad warning to consumers to avoid eating romaine lettuce while it investigated a rash of E. coli infections across the country. That outbreak now appears over, after affecting consumers in 16 states.
Special provisions of the Produce Safety Rule apply to sprouts. “Sprouts are especially vulnerable to dangerous microbes because of the warm, moist and nutrient-rich conditions needed to grow them,” according to the FDA. As such, sprouts were singled out for additional requirements and earlier compliance dates in the Produce Safety Rule. The Sprout Safety Alliance, out of the Illinois Institute of Technology, offers training and other programs for sprout producers. Working with the FDA and industry, that group helps producers of sprouts meet their unique obligations under the Produce Safety Rule.
FDA enforcement of the Produce Safety Rule is coming soon via routine inspections. In the run-up to these inspections, Commissioner Gottlieb highlighted the agency’s efforts to provide training, issue guidance, share technical assistance, and contribute funding to state produce safety systems.  While the Produce Safety Rule was “hotly debated,” says Shawn Hogue, a lawyer with K&L Gates in Miami, “there is quantifiable evidence its established mandatory science-based, minimum standards for the safe growing, packing, and harvesting of fruits and vegetables has been effective and will likely be even more effective in the near future.”
It remains to be seen how the Produce Safety Rule will play out with the FDA’s forthcoming routine inspections, especially if another government shutdown were to occur. Just this January, the FDA’s routine food safety inspections were curtailed due to the interruption in funds, although some inspections were later restarted even during the shutdown. Let’s hope the FDA’s further implementation of the Produce Safety Rule produces results in ensuring the safety of America’s food supply.

Raw Milk from Pennsylvania Farm Linked to Multistate Brucella Exposures
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By Staff (Feb 12, 2019)
Raw Milk from Pennsylvania Farm Linked to Multistate Brucella Exposures
Multistate exposures linked to milk is currently being investigated by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and various state health officials.
Raw, unpasteurized milk from Miller’s Biodiversity Farm in Quarryville, PA, is believed to be the source of an illness due to Brucella RB51 in 19 states. Milk samples from Miller’s Biodiversity tested positive for RB51. A cow that tested positive for RB51 has been removed from the milking herd. As of January 22, 2019, investigators have determined that people in 19 states have bought or consumed raw milk from the implicated farm.
So far, CDC says there is one confirmed brucellosis illness in New York. That illness was diagnosed in November 2018. Other illnesses have yet to be confirmed with certainty because this particular strain of Brucella is drug resistant, and testing options are limited, making it difficult to diagnose. Also, CDC says that early brucellosis symptoms are much like the flu.
The one confirmed illness is New York is only the third known case of Brucella RB51 linked to raw milk or raw milk products produced in the U.S. The previous two (human) cases occurred in October 2017 (New Jersey; purchase made online) and August 2017 (Texas; purchased from a local farm). Despite only three confirmed cases of RB51 over the past two years, CDC says that hundreds of others were potentially exposed to the bacteria during those three illnesses.

International push to improve food safety
Source :
By News Release (Feb 12, 2019)
International Food Safety Conference opens with call for greater global cooperation
Greater international cooperation is needed to prevent unsafe food from causing ill health and hampering progress towards sustainable development, world leaders said at today’s opening session of the First International Food Safety Conference, in Addis Ababa, organized by the African Union (AU), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO).
A follow-up event, the International Forum on Food Safety and Trade, which will focus on interlinkages between food safety and trade, is scheduled to be hosted by WTO in Geneva (23-24 April). The two meetings are expected to galvanize support and lead to actions in the key areas that are strategic for the future of food safety.
Food contaminated with bacteria, viruses, parasites, toxins or chemicals causes more than 600 million people to fall ill and 420 000 to die worldwide every year. Illness linked to unsafe food overloads healthcare systems and damages economies, trade and tourism. The impact of unsafe food costs low- and middle-income economies around $95 billion in lost productivity each year. Because of these threats, food safety must be a paramount goal at every stage of the food chain, from production to harvest, processing, storage, distribution, preparation and consumption, conference participants stressed.
“The partnership between the African Union and the United Nations has been longstanding and strategic,” said African Union Commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat. “This food safety conference is a demonstration of this partnership. Without safe foods, it is not possible to achieve food security,” he said.
“There is no food security without food safety,” agreed FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva during his remarks. “This conference is a great opportunity for the international community to strengthen political commitments and engage in key actions. Safeguarding our food is a shared responsibility. We must all play our part. We must work together to scale up food safety in national and international political agendas,” he said.
“Food should be a source of nourishment and enjoyment, not a cause of disease or death,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization. “Unsafe food is responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths every year, but has not received the political attention it deserves. Ensuring people have access to safe food takes sustained investment in stronger regulations, laboratories, surveillance and monitoring. In our globalized world, food safety is everyone’s issue.”
“Food safety is a central element of public health and will be crucial in achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals,” WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo said. “Trade is an important force to lift people out of poverty… when we reconvene in Geneva in April we will consider these issues in more depth,” he added.
Around 130 countries are participating in the two-day conference, including ministers of agriculture, health, and trade. Leading scientific experts, partner agencies and representatives of consumers, food producers, civil society organizations and the private sector are also taking part.
The aim of the conference is to identify key actions that will ensure the availability of, and access to, safe food now and in the future. This will require a strengthened commitment at the highest political level to scale up food safety in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Changing food systems
Technological advances, digitalization, novel foods and processing methods provide a wealth of opportunities to simultaneously enhance food safety, and improve nutrition, livelihoods and trade.  At the same time, climate change and the globalization of food production, coupled with a growing global population and increasing urbanization, pose new challenges to food safety.  Food systems are becoming even more complex and interlinked, blurring lines of regulatory responsibility.  Solutions to these potential problems require intersectoral and concerted international action.
Strengthened collaboration
A central theme of the conference is that food safety systems need to keep pace with the way food is produced and consumed.  This requires a sustained investment and coordinated, multi-sectoral approaches for regulatory legislation, suitable laboratory capacities, and adequate disease surveillance and food monitoring programmes, all of which need to be supported by information technologies, shared information, training and education.

Focusing on food safety in the meat and poultry department
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By Ryan Atkinson (Feb 11, 2019)
Food safety is always on the minds of retailers, and no department escapes the hyper-vigilance of store manager determined to go above and beyond to protect their consumers — and the store’s reputation.
But the meat and poultry department, perhaps, deserves even more attention. A bevy of raw products and the rise of custom processing and customer interaction has taken food safety needs to a new level.
“There’s nothing clandestine about food safety,” says Hilary Thesmar, who serves as chief food and product safety and senior vice president of food safety for the Food Marketing Institute. “It’s a practice and a commitment that food retailers celebrate and outwardly express through their brands.”
The impact of regulations, programs
Retailers have plenty of outside help when it comes to guidance in the meat and poultry department.
For example, new regulations on recordkeeping for beef-grinding in retail stores went fully into effect in 2017, says Matt Raymond, contractor, public affairs for the North American Meat Institute. Moves like this are intended to improve the traceability of products in the unlikely event of a recall
“FSIS data fully demonstrate the importance of complete recordkeeping in tracing potentially contaminated products,” Raymond says. “Increasing awareness of and compliance with these requirements among the tens of thousands of regulated retailers will help further strengthen confidence in the safety of the products they sell, along with public health.”
FMI has an entire program dedicated to food safety training called SafeMark. Thesmar says it was developed specifically to empower associates to be food safety experts and help them abide by food safety codes.
And efforts to protect food safety at the meat and deli counter are building on the progress that is being made all the way up the supply chain, Raymond says. In particular, the Food Safety and Inspection Service’s Listeria monocytogenes pilot project.
“In the Listeria pilot project, there were increases—some of them quite significant—in adoption across all categories of FSIS’s safety recommendations,” he says. “The extension of the project through 2021 will provide FSIS further insight into acceptance of the most critical recommendations, and where more progress is needed, which should lay the groundwork for continued improvement into the future.”
A culture of safety, service
It goes without saying that all food retailers must comply with all local, state and federal food safety regulations.
But as stringent as those rules may be, consumers often have even higher standards.
“Retailers meet those needs every day by providing high quality products with outstanding customer service,” Thesmar says.
The meat department is an area of the store where shoppers are more likely to have questions about what to buy and how to prepare their purchase.
“In this regard, training programs have changed to be very specific for employees to obtain the knowledge and behaviors they need to meet customers’ needs,” Thesmar says. “Well beyond the meat department, though, maintaining the confidence of customers is essential to the success of a food retail business, so when it comes to food safety, the best protection is prevention, and that’s why food safety training and certification is so important.”
Any time raw products are handled, there are specific procedures that associates follow to mitigate food safety risks for the customers and keep themselves safe. And Thesmar says many of these programs go beyond what the Food Safety Modernization Act requires.
“Food safety is so much more to food retailers than procedure — it’s their culture,” she says.
The trouble with tech
Technology is fully embraced among food safety professionals, but Thesmar says consumer acceptance can sometimes be a barrier.
For example, irradiated meat has been in commerce since the early 2000s, but consumers can find the blue tint unappealing. That said, several food retailers have found a niche market and offer it as an option in their meat cases.
“I think we’ll witness more opportunities for technologies that enhance quality control and freshness as it relates to packaging and design,” Thesmar says. “We’ll also begin to better understand how data sources, or event open data sources like blockchain, can help us better facilitate traceability efforts and illness mitigation.”

Automation, food safety highlight new facility design
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By Andy Nelson (Feb 11, 2019)
Automation, packaged refrigeration, packaging flexibility and new ideas in food safety design are among the trends in construction of production facilities for suppliers of grocery fresh perimeter items.
Producers of foods sold in the perimeter are striving to produce the highest quality product possible at a cost consumers consider a value, says Ed Wright, project executive of Cleveland-based design-build firm The Austin Co.
Because there are many different expectations regarding quality, depending on the consumer, producers can market the specific quality level that meets a given customer’s individual requirements, Wright says.
That’s where having the right building becomes critical. To delivery quality product at a reasonable cost, processing facilities must be arranged and managed in a way that “facilitates the efficient flow of people and products through their respective facilities, all while maintaining a food-safe environment,” he says.
When Austin designs a food processing facility, the firm always starts with the design of the process and people flows. “We’re deliberate in how and where employees travel in relation to the path of the foodstuff,” Wright says. “We develop processing areas we call hygiene zones to differentiate between the sanitation levels of each step in a process.”
As raw materials are transformed into the foods consumers see in the grocery perimeter, the level of hygiene of the people and the processing spaces continuously needs to increase to maximize the prevention of bacteriological contamination, Wright says. In each of the hygiene zones, employees and the environment they’re working in are carefully managed to ensure the maximization of the desired product quality. It's only at that stage that Austin will “wrap walls around the processes,” he says.
Department-specific needs
The majority of fresh perimeter foods are refrigerated products, so it’s critical that these facilities have adequate temperature control to optimize shelf life and to minimize any potential for contamination, says Todd Allsup, vice president of sales, food group, for Jacksonville, Florida-based design-build firm Stellar.
Needs of processors can vary widely depending on what fresh-perimeter product is being produced in the facility, Allsup says. Take fresh produce. As soon as it’s harvested, it becomes a dying product. It’s a race against the clock to get that product to the consumer and maximize its shelf life.
“There is increased pressure on processors to get fresh produce through the plant as quickly as possible,” Allsup says. “Newcomers to this space — and existing companies looking to build new plants — need to consider the entire supply chain and how they want to lay out their facilities to increase speed to market and compete in the marketplace.”
Companies that shortchange this factor in their facility design will pay for it in lower profits, Allsup says. The longer the shelf life, the less spoilage and the more profit.
Poultry and seafood processing facilities, on the other hand, have a different set of needs, Allsup says. Poultry facilities use a lot of water for washdown, so it’s important to design systems correctly to manage the flow of washdown and clean-up. “Downtime spent on cleaning is time not spent producing revenue, so it’s important to plan these cycles efficiently,” he says.
There is currently an increased focus on automation in the poultry and seafood segments, Allsup says. Historically, these products have been manually intensive, requiring substantial personnel on the plant floor to facilitate processing. But given the current economy and unemployment rate, there’s a noticeable labor shortage, particularly when it comes to finding employees to work in these harsh, refrigerated environments.
“This trend, coupled with the decreasing cost of automation and robotics, is driving investment in these technologies where it makes sense,” he says.
Packaging flexibility
Another trend becoming more prominent in new food production facilities is packaging flexibility, Allsup says.
“There needs to be a focus on designing flexibility into a facility so producers can easily accommodate ever-changing consumer demand,” Allsup says. “In today’s marketplace of niche segments and specialty products, it’s no longer just about producing a particular SKU as quickly as possible. Manufacturers are also prioritizing fast changeovers and nimble processing.”
As a result, today’s facilities must be designed with enough space to adapt to growth and produce new SKUs quickly as market changes dictate. Clients tell Stellar that they want packaging flexibility to meet the needs of a variety of clients.
“They need to be able to package their products for individual retail, bulk wholesale clubs and foodservice clients,” Allsup says. “If you have greater packaging options, you have a wider spectrum of potential clients who have different packaging size needs.”
A new packaging segment is also emerging with the growth of online delivery and curbside pick-up for groceries. Packaging for these products is often a lot simpler (and cheaper) since manufacturers don’t have to attract the eye of a shopper perusing in-store shelves, Allsup says.
Food safety
To ensure the highest food safety standards are met, Austin has food scientists on staff — one of only a few companies to do so, Wright says. “The Austin Co. has been a leader in food-safe design for many years,” he says. “We have been designing facilities that meet the new FSMA requirements for years.”
Food safety drives everything. For instance, Austin facilities implement automation where possible — but only, Wright says, if it “serves the process in a food-safe manner.”
One area of food safety that Stellar has been focused on more recently is bringing food safety design into what Allsup calls “employee welfare areas.” A few examples:
·          Secure entrances — Food safety begins the moment employees step into the building, not just the production floor. Some facilities opt to have a security guard and/or turnstile at the entrance to control access to the facility and set a serious tone. Stellar also recommends controlling access to areas by requiring a card swipe, especially to restrict employees who work on the raw side of the facility from accessing the ready-to-eat side, and vice-versa.
·          Break rooms and bathrooms — Employees who work on the raw side and ready-to-eat side should have their own separate break rooms and bathrooms. Stellar also design facilities with consideration for trash flows from these rooms to the dumpster in order to minimize potential contamination to the plant floor.
·          Plant visitors — Visitors to the facility are a crucial consideration, especially because these guests are likely not familiar with the food safety routines and standards required in a food plant. For some clients, Stellar has designed a holding area or vestibule where visitors can wait while an employee leaves the working zone, de-gowns and sanitizes before meeting them. Many facilities also include an area for training (whether live instruction or a video) to explain the rules to visitors and what they will be wearing to ensure food safety is maintained.
Packaged refrigeration
Packaged refrigeration is one of the biggest trends in food plant production, says Todd Allsup, vice president of sales, food group, for Jacksonville, Florida-based design-build firm Stellar.
Unlike traditional systems that are built within the facility, with packaged refrigeration, modular equipment is built off site, mounted on a structural steel base, then delivered to the plant as a self-contained, “plug-and-play” system, Allsup says.
“Not only are these systems safer than their traditional counterparts, but they also come with advantages in terms of installation, field labor savings and schedule savings,” he says.
Since you don’t have to send a refrigeration team to a job site to construct the system, opting for a packaged refrigeration system can save an owner 25 to 30 percent in labor costs, Allsup says. And the process of assembling a packaged refrigeration system is faster and more efficient than traditional methods, which can reduce the overall project timeline.
The packaged refrigeration option is especially attractive for companies looking to retrofit an existing building rather than build a new one, Allsup says. And if they ever decide to lease the building, they have the flexibility to take the modular refrigeration system with them when they move.

Snacking: A Booming Trend in the American Lifestyle
Source :
By Gina R. (Nicholson) Kramer, RS/REHS, and Megan Doran
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
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.
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.
3. SNAXPO IRI Emerging Trends.pdf.

Food safety chiefs served nine closure orders on Irish food businesses this month
Source :
By Áine Conaty (Feb 11, 2019)
Food safety chiefs have had to serve nine closures on Irish food businesses over the past month.
In one instance rodent activity was discovered in the kitchenette at an Irish hospital.
These orders were handed out by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland and they were over breaches of food safety legislation, pursuant to the FSAI Act, 1998 and the EC (Official Control of Foodstuffs) Regulations, 2010.
An HSE inspector's said that they found a "small rodent" "dead in kitchen of medical assessment unit".
They also said that rodent droppings were also found behind the kitchen equipment during their inspection of the kitchenette at the Medical Assessment Unit.
There was also a report from the pest control company and it stated "mouse caught on trap" in the kitchenette of a Female Medical Ward.
The closure was issued on January 2 and it was then lifted on January 5.
Some of the other food businesses that were issued closures were the Sabore Nordetino on Moore Street Mall at Dublin's Parnell Street, Indias Taste takeaway on Summerhill Parade in the capital, as well as The Quays restaurant in Temple Bar.
The reports from the HSE inspector said that in Sabore Nordetino there was "widespread evidence of mouse infestation" and the restaurant had "not taken sufficient action".
They issued the warning on January 29 and it was lifted on January 30.
Indias Taste was issued the closure for January 23 until January 28 after "evidence of rodent infestation noted" and they also found the presence of mouse droppings which was a "grave and immediate danger to public health".
The Quays restaurant was closed on January 8 after an active cockroach infestation was found and it was then lifted on January 16.
FSAI chief Dr Pamela Byrne said to The Irish Sun: "Pests and insects can pose a grave risk to human health.
"Our inspectors are finding recurring incidents of filthy premises and rodent infestations in food businesses.
"Implementing and maintaining a pest control system is a basic requirement, and is of the highest importance for food business operators. They have a duty of care to their customers to serve food that is safe to eat. There is no excuse for bad practice."






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