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From: Food Quality & Safety Magazine, August/September 2010
Ensuring quality in the food manufacturing supply chain
We’ve all heard the reports. “Peanut Recall Sparks Large-Scale Food Safety Concerns.” “Pistachios-Salmonella Link Probed.” “Fears of Tainted Spinach Sweep the Nation.”
Over time, pest control has undergone a sea change
In today’s climate of heightened food safety scrutiny, it is hard to believe that not so long ago, attitudes about what constituted a hygienic processing environment were very different. This is especially true for pest management practices. Only a little more than 70 years have passed since Congress enacted the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1938 (FD&C Act), and a little more than 100 years ago, Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle opened America’s eyes to what was happening in meat...
It's good for the environment and your bottom line
Sustainable manufacturing and processing, which reduces raw materials waste and minimizes refuse, is more than a passing trend for companies both large and small during this economic recession. As companies using such practices see it, sustainability attracts consumers. But more fundamentally, it is good for a business’s bottom line.
Advanced food technology at work under extreme conditions
Novel processes utilized in food safety programs at both the Department of Defense Combat Feeding Directorate and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Advanced Food Technology Project were discussed at the July 2010 Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Annual Meeting and Food Expo in Chicago. Presented at the same symposium, two commonalities emerged for these seemingly disparate environments: The loss of personnel to foodborne illness may jeopardize a mission, and food...
Over 100 food safety reports submitted by industry in first seven months
The initial findings of the Reportable Food Registry, presented via teleconference in late July, revealed 125 primary reports regarding incidents affecting food safety. “We’re putting out this report [now] so that the public can know what we’re learning,” said Michael R. Taylor, JD, Deputy Commissioner for Foods at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). “Over time, we hope that this will build a body of information that can be useful for tracking trends and understanding...
May also cut rates of foodborne illnesses
A new paper that inhibits the growth of bacteria in food products could extend product shelf life and protect consumers from bacteria-causing foodborne illnesses. Overcoming the concerns associated with earlier antibacterial materials, this paper is nontoxic, environmentally friendly, and low in cost. The relatively simple processing of this antibacterial material suggests it may be commercially viable for food packaging methods in the near future.
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Third party certification can help prevent ‘greenwashing’
As sustainability gains momentum throughout the food industry, we’re seeing the increasingly popular use of ecolabels and certifications like organic, Marine Stewardship Council, and Pesticide Residue Free by primary producers. Third party certifications provide a valuable and credible way for these businesses to tell potential customers about their sustainability efforts. While most current certifications focus on primary producers, third party verification can also play a valuable role in advancing...
Intelligent process cooling can reduce water use by up to 98%
The food and beverage processing industry is known as the largest industrial user of water, consuming up to 20,000 gallons of water per ton of product, according to the North Carolina Division of Pollution Prevention and Environmental Assistance. And, with over 17,000 food and beverage processors in the United States alone, curbing this dependence on a community’s clean water supply is a top concern.
Reduce your risk of becoming a recall 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 that its product might be next. The industry got a taste of that reality with the massive recall of Salmonella-contaminated products made with peanuts originating from the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA). By March 2009, the recall included more than 3,200 products, with the number rising daily. Then, just as the dust seemed to settle, a...
These tools increase efficiency, cost savings, and quality control
The food and beverage manufacturing industry faces challenging market conditions on multiple fronts: product safety requirements, razor-thin margins, unique customer orders, and constantly varying stock keeping units. To meet such challenges, manufacturers turn to tracking and tracing tools. Capable of tracking materials and products within a single plant or throughout a network of plants, these tools have the potential to provide a complex range of benefits and competitive advantages. While tracking and...
Dedicated GC columns offer more accurate compound reporting
The Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the largest in U.S. history, has raised awareness of a food safety issue, namely contamination by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). In the future, analytical testing for PAHs in fish, crustaceans, and bivalves will undoubtedly become a routine procedure for many laboratories. PAH exposure, through either environmental pollution or contaminated foodstuffs, and its effects on human health have been the topic of many scientific studies. The recent oil spill again focuses...
Analytical methods are critical for reliable food authentication
Consumers around the world are increasingly demanding information on and reassurance of the origin and content of their food. In addition, food manufacturers must provide and confirm the authenticity and point of origin of food products and their components. These increased demands come amid legislative and regulatory pushes that increase the complexity and level of regulation imposed on the food supply worldwide. Protecting consumer rights and preventing fraudulent or deceptive practices such as food...
On the first season of “Sesame Street” in 1970, the soon-to-be cultural icon Kermit the Frog sang the immortal line, “It’s not easy being green.” Kermit was of course referring to the difficulties of being a small green creature. But the difficulties involved in being green are quite familiar to most industries, including food manufacturing.
As I contemplate my topic for this issue’s column, Labor Day is around the corner and I’m reflecting on this summer. Where did it go? What did I learn? How do I use this summer’s life experiences to my advantage?