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From: Food Quality & Safety Magazine, October/November 2009
Industry awaits new safety legislation, but change may not come until 2010
Long-awaited legislation to reform and modernize the nation’s food safety system will likely be put off until next year while the Senate continues to grapple with healthcare reform and other contentious issues.
New research from the Volcani Center in Israel reveals that the pathogenic bacteria Salmonella enterica can sense, swim toward, and enter open stomata in a lettuce leaf during photosynthesis. The discovery, published in the October issue of Applied and Environmental Microbiology, has important implications for food safety and may partially explain why it’s so difficult to prevent outbreaks of foodborne illness by disinfecting fresh produce.
New research could assist in fight against other bacterial illnesses
New discoveries about the mechanism of spread between cells of the foodborne pathogen Listeria monocytogenes could shed light on a host of other bacterial illnesses with similar patterns of infection. Listeria can cause serious illness in immunocompromised people and spontaneous abortion in pregnant women. In addition to infecting humans and animals, it can also grow on vegetables.
Purifying compressed air and steam may improve food processing
Compressed air and culinary steam are commonly used in the food industry in a variety of applications including controlling devices used in the processing operation (e.g., using compressed air to open/close a pneumatic valve), handling the product and or packaging (e.g., ingredients handling, product transfer, a drying operation), or coming into contact with a surface in direct contact with the product (e.g., clean in place, using culinary steam to sanitize a component of the processing system).
Test kitchens allow processors to ensure that equipment maximizes yield and taste
Only a fool would buy a new car without going for a test drive, and food processors now find themselves adopting a similar approach when it comes to purchasing equipment for their facilities. No longer content to simply sign off on the delivery of large ovens and chillers at their docks before trying to adapt the machinery to their particular processes, plant managers have sought a means to ensure, in advance, that such equipment is optimally suited for their operations.
Cut your risk of becoming a statistic
The volume and severity of food recalls in recent years are enough to scare any consumer away from grocery aisles and frighten any food manufacturer into thinking its product might be next.
After a 1993 E. Coli outbreak, the industry enacted changes applicable to other areas of the food industry
In just the first few months of 2009, two high-profile foodborne illness outbreaks associated with peanuts and pistachios have drawn attention to the safety of our food supply. As a result, various food safety-related proposals are flooding the halls of Congress.
Building effective training partnerships with suppliers enhances education
Across the food industry, legions of plant sanitarians would swear they could comfortably retire if they had a sawbuck for every time they have heard this axiom. While battle fatigue associated with this oft-used adage is understandable, its underlying message—that effective cleaning and sanitizing are essential prerequisites for producing safe, quality food—remains at the core of sanitation training programs.
Proper design and material choices are key
This is the first in a two-part series. Part two, which will appear in our December/January issue, will focus on the targets for pathogen and spoilage microbes in the food contact zones.
Are you ready for a national traceability system?
U.S. food safety legislation is in the works to create a national food traceability system that would help to protect consumers from foodborne illness and would enable food manufacturers to increase their responsiveness and ability to participate in the recall process. The objective of the food traceability system is to find tainted food and remove it from the shelves as quickly as possible. If the new food safety legislation is signed into law, many participants in the food supply chain will be affected...
Although on-site audits are best, other tools can help ensure the quality of procured ingredients
Large, multi-plant, and international food companies typically have the capital and technical resources to manage their supply chains. Many of these companies have one or more departments dedicated to evaluating, selecting, and monitoring their suppliers and associated raw materials. This is generally not the case for small- to mid-size food processors. In some cases, on-site audits of suppliers to smaller food companies are not economically or technically feasible.
The food industry is increasingly using quantitative analytical solutions
More than once in my marriage—in fact, more than once in the last month—my significant other has presented me with a mysterious substance and asked, “Does this taste funny to you?” I generally decline these invitations to explore the unknown, not because I lack the courage, though that is true, but as someone with a science background, I feel I lack the proper instrumentation.
High profile food recalls raise questions about purpose, credibility of third-party audits
Food companies routinely conduct food quality and safety audits to qualify vendors both on an initial and ongoing basis. Over the years, many different audit schemes have been developed, resulting in significant improvements in food quality and safety. Recent high profile recalls, however, such as the one involving the Peanut Corporation of America, raise many questions about the purpose and credibility of third-party audits.