Listeria

Thermo Scientific SureTect Listeria PCR Assays Granted AOAC Official Methods First Action

Listeria

A poster by Thermo Scientific presented ay the 2022 IAFP Conference in August showed validation methods of the company’s SureTect Listeria monocytogenes and Listeria species PCR Assays, which led to AOAC recognition for official method of first action.

For the unpaired collaborative study, Evangelos J Vandoros, et al, compared the SureTect Listeria PCR Assays Method to the method outlined in the FDA-Bam Chapter 10. The matrix used for the study was full-fat cottage cheese with a test portion of 25g.

The researchers validated both SureTect Listeria PCR Assays (Listeria species and Listeria monocytogenes) in this study, as they follow the same method protocol and are validated for the same matrices.

Outcomes showed consolidated dLPOD data from 12 collaborators for the SureTect Listeria PCR methods and the FDA-BAM Chapter 10 reference method. The data was within confidence intervals showing that there was no significant difference between the SureTect methods and the reference method. The time to result was less than 24 hours.

Based on these findings, the SureTect Listeria monocytogenes and Listeria species PCR Assays were both granted AOAC Official Methods First Action

The validated categories for the assays include milk and dairy, fresh produce, seafood, raw meat, ready to eat/reheat and environmental,

Recall

Frozen Pizza Recalled Due to Possible Foreign Object Contamination

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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Recall

Home Run Inn Frozen Foods is recalling approximately 13,099 pounds of frozen meat pizza product that may be contaminated with metal materials. The USDA FSIS announced the recall on August 14.

The problem was discovered when the Woodbridge, Illinois-based company notified FSIS that it had received consumer complaints reporting that metal was found in the pizza.

The pizzas were produced on June 6, 2022, and include the 33.5 oz. “Home Run Inn CHICAGO’S PREMIUM PIZZERIA DELUXE SAUSAGE CLASSIC PIZZA” with “best by” date of 12/03/22 (view labels). The products subject to recall have the establishment number “EST. 18498-A” inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to a distributor in Illinois and then further distributed to retailers.

There have been no confirmed reports of injuries or adverse reactions due to consumption of these products.

Distributors and retailers are urged not to sell these products. Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them and either throw them away or return them to the place of purchase.

Salmonella

USDA Declares Salmonella an Adulterant in Breaded Stuffed Raw Chicken Products

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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Salmonella

On August 1, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced that it will be declaring Salmonella an adulterant in breaded and stuffed raw chicken products.

The FSIS noted that since 1998, breaded and stuffed raw chicken products have been associated with up to 14 outbreaks and approximately 200 illnesses. Products in this category are found in the freezer section and include some chicken cordon bleu or chicken Kiev products. The challenge is that these products appear cooked to consumers, but they are heat-treated only to set the batter or breading. The products contain raw poultry, and continual efforts to improve the product labeling have not been effective at reducing consumer illnesses, said the FSIS.

By declaring Salmonella an adulterant in these products, breaded and stuffed raw chicken products will be considered adulterated when they exceed a very low level of Salmonella contamination and would be subject to regulatory action. FSIS is proposing to set the limit at 1 colony forming unit (CFU) of Salmonella per gram for these products, a level that the agency believes will significantly reduce the risk of illness from consuming these products. The agency will also seek comment on whether a different standard for adulteration, such as zero tolerance or one based on specific serotypes, would be more appropriate.

“Today’s announcement is an important moment in U.S. food safety because we are declaring Salmonella an adulterant in a raw poultry product,” said Sandra Eskin, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety. “This is just the beginning of our efforts to improve public health.”

The notice is expected to publish in the Federal Register in the fall. FSIS will be seeking public comments that address what the standard should be as well as to inform its final implementation plan, including a verification testing program. Once published, the notice will be posted in FSIS’ Federal Register & Rulemaking page for review and comment. When the proposal is finalized, FSIS will announce its final implementation plans and the date it will begin routine testing for Salmonella in these products.

In October 2021, USDA announced it was reevaluating its strategy for controlling Salmonella in poultry, including whether Salmonella should be considered an adulterant in specific raw poultry products. Since launching this effort, USDA has been focusing on gathering information by meeting with stakeholders to hear their ideas, asking for recommendations from food safety experts and soliciting ideas for pilot projects from industry to test drive different control strategies in poultry establishments. USDA plans to present a proposed framework for a new comprehensive strategy to reduce Salmonella illnesses attributable to poultry in October and convene a public meeting to discuss it in November.

Food Safety Survey
Food Safety Culture Club

Global Food Safety Survey Reveals Challenges and Opportunities in Employee Training Practices

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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Food Safety Survey

Intertek Alchemy, which offers training for manufacturing and food processing industries, has released the findings of its seventh annual Global Food Safety Training Survey, developed to assess food safety training practices

More than 2,000 industry professionals representing more than 3,000 food production facilities worldwide responded to the survey. Their responses highlighted some of the significant challenges and contradictions of current food safety training practices, and provided insight into strategies to help overcome these challenges.

For example, 88% of respondents believe that their companies provide adequate levels of food safety training to drive consistent and appropriate food safety behaviors. Yet only 40% of their employees follow food safety programs on the manufacturing floor.

Additional key findings from the survey include:

  • 81% of respondents agreed that their companies understand what it takes to build and sustain a strong food safety culture, and 40% of companies use a food safety culture audit/assessment to measure sustained food safety behaviors. But, only 22% of respondents strongly agree that their employees have the authority to take action when food safety is compromised.
  • 80% of respondents believe they would be more productive if their employees consistently adhered to their training programs. However, only 19% of companies are increasing their budget for food safety training and only 18% plan to add new training technologies next year.

When looking at practices that improve food safety outcomes, responses revealed that:

  • Tailoring training to specific job roles increases the likelihood from 22% to 82% that a frontline employee will halt production when necessary to prevent a food safety incident
  • Highly motivated employees are over two times more likely to consistently adhere to food safety protocols on the floor.
  • 78% of companies with a mature upskilling programs reported having highly motivated employees, compared to 43% for companies without an upskilling program.

When asked to share, “What are you organization’s biggest food safety training challenges?” nearly 50% cited scheduling time for training, followed by staff turnover and bad practices or misinformation passed from one employee to another.

One of the most significant changes in this year’s survey was how food safety training is delivered. The use of e-learning tools nearly doubled in the past two years (37% in 2020 to 63% in 2022).

“This year’s Global Food Safety Training Report presents some eye-catching findings, providing a comprehensive look into what food manufacturers can do to improve food safety training outcomes,” said Intertek Alchemy President Darrin Harkness. “We’re proud to sponsor the research that provides clear, data-driven answers on how they can make their food safety programs even stronger. Together we can work to ensure a safe and sustainable global food supply with a shared goal of reducing foodborne illnesses and eliminating costly recalls.”

The Global Food Safety Training Survey is sponsored by Intertek Alchemy and Campden BRI, in partnership with BRCGS, BSI, Cultivate, SGS, Safe Quality Food Institute and TSI.

A complimentary copy of the research paper, “Why Some Training Programs Succeed Where Others Fail,” is available for download here.

 

 

 

FDA logo

FDA Announces Two Virtual Events for Food Safety Professionals

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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FDA logo

Registration is now open for the 2022 FDA Retail Food Protection Seminar. Registration for the September 19-22, 2022, event is free and open to all professionals interested in retail food safety, including all state, local, territorial and tribal regulators, standardized officers, industry and academia.

The event provides an opportunity for the FDA and state, local, tribal and territorial regulators to discuss current and emerging issues related to retail food safety. This year’s seminar will have a focus on norovirus, including assessing employee health, investigating norovirus related foodborne illnesses and implementing successful employee health intervention strategies.

A Risk Factor Study Workshop, planned for Thursday, September 22, 2022, will focus on how to design and conduct a Risk Factor Study and cover requirements for Standard 9 of the Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards. The aim of the workshop is to help participants understand different study designs as well as the FDA’s data collection approach, and get an overview on how to conduct a data collection. There will also be a demonstration on the use of FDA’s Risk Factor Study Database.

Attendees can register here.

On August 11 at 1:00 pm ET, the FDA is hosting a webinar to discuss the biennial food facility registration renewal period, the requirement for facilities to have a unique facility identifier (UFI) and general information and guidance on how to register with the FDA.

U.S. and foreign human and animal food facilities that are required to register with FDA must renew their registration this year between October 1 and December 31, 2022.

Nicole Shokatz and Robert Spear from the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Office of Compliance, will lead the webinar and answer questions submitted during registration.

The agenda includes:

  1. Who needs to register or renew
  2. How to obtain a UFI
  3. How and where to register
  4. The benefits of registering
  5. Questions and Answers

Registration is open until August 10.

Strawberries

FDA Is Focusing on Safety of Frozen Berries

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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Strawberries

On July 22, the FDA announced that it is developing a food safety prevention strategy to enhance the safety of fresh and frozen berries. The move comes in response to multiple hepatitis A (HAV) and norovirus (NoV) outbreaks linked to the consumption of both fresh and frozen berries.

The FDA reports that there have been four HAV outbreaks and three NoV outbreaks linked to frozen berries from 1990 to 2016 in the U.S., and since 2011, there have been three HAV outbreaks linked to fresh berries, including a current outbreak linked to fresh organic strawberries.

In addition, from 1983 to 2018, there were 50 outbreaks globally that were attributed to frozen berries: 36 caused by NoV and 14 by HAV. The FDA noted that although freezing preserves berries it generally does not inactivate viruses that may be introduced at various points in the supply chain, such as by infected workers, contaminated water or contaminated food contact surfaces. In addition, fresh berries are generally eaten raw without a kill-step that could eliminate pathogens.

In August, the FDA plans to resume an assignment to collect and test frozen berries that it paused at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The assignment seeks to estimate the prevalence of HAV and NoV in frozen strawberries, raspberries and blackberries and help the FDA identify sites where practices or conditions may exist that constitute safety vulnerabilities.

The FDA also plans to work collaboratively with industry, academia and regulatory partners in the development of a food safety prevention strategy to identify measures that can be taken to limit or prevent contamination from occurring throughout the berry supply chain, approaches to re-enforce control measures and their application as well as areas where additional research is needed.

 

Joe Pezzini

Taylor Farms Exec Named Chair of CPS Board

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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Joe Pezzini

Joe Pezzini, senior director of agricultural operations for Taylor Farms, has been elected chair of the Center for Produce Safety (CPS) Board of Directors. The CPS is a charitable organization focused on providing the produce industry and government with access to information needed to enhance the safety of fresh produce.

Pezzini said that his first priority as CPS board chair will be to guide the board’s update of the center’s strategic plan. “In 15 short years, the CPS has grown into an extraordinary melting pot of industry, research, regulatory and public health leaders who are doing much more together to advance fresh produce food safety than we ever could alone,” he said. “Our goal for the next five years will be to continue that positive trajectory. That means making sure that CPS can continue to innovate in how we fund science, find solutions and fuel change in produce safety. The food we grow and sell to consumers is the same food we take home to our families. Our work doesn’t get more personal than that.”

The CPS reported that, in addition to electing Pezzini, six board members agreed to serve additional three-year terms. They include:

  • Jim Brennan, president, SmartWash Solutions;
  • Mike Joyner, president, Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association;
  • Dave Murray, partner, Andrew & Williamson/Good Farms;
  • Mark Mignogna, vice president, quality assurance, Sysco;
  • Victor Smith, CEO, J.V. Smith Farms; and
  • Craig Wilson, vice president, QA and food safety, Costco Wholesale.

Amy Gates, vice president of Seald Sweet/Greenyard USA, joined the board as a first-time member.

STOP Foodborne Illness
Food Safety Think Tank

Food Safety Culture Webinar To Broadcast Live from IAFP

STOP Foodborne Illness

The FDA and the Alliance to STOP Foodborne Illness have announced that the fourth installment of the “Collaborating on Culture in the New Era of Smarter Food Safety” webinar series will take place on August 3 from 12:15pm – 1:15pm ET.

The webinar, entitled “What More Do You Want to Know About Food Safety Culture?” will be broadcast live from the International Association for Food Protection 2022 Annual Meeting. Speakers and attendees will have the opportunity to engage in a question-and-answer session. Registration is available for both in-person and virtual attendance.

The webinar series was designed to bring together experts from the public and private sectors for a collaborative exchange of ideas and experiences related to the importance of food safety culture in ensuring safe food production.

 

Woman shopping

FDA Seeks Information on Fluorinated Polyethylene Food Contact Packaging

Woman shopping

The FDA is seeking scientific data and input from industry on current food contact uses of fluorinated polyethylene, as well as consumer dietary exposure that may result from those uses. On July 19, the agency issued a request for information due to concerns that fluorination of polyethylene may result in the formation of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

The FDA authorized fluorinated polyethylene for general use in contact with food in 1983 (21 CFR 177.1615). However, the regulation requires specific manufacturing conditions that must be in place during the fluorination process. In 2021, testing by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) noted the migration of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a type of PFAS, from fluorinated polyethylene containers used to hold pesticides. In response, the FDA issued a letter to food manufacturers, reminding industry that only certain fluorinated polyethylene containers are authorized for food contact use.

The July 19 call for input and data is part of the FDA’s efforts to monitor new scientific information on food contact surfaces (FCS) as it becomes available. “This includes reviewing scientific literature and studies from other regulatory and health agencies in the U. S. and in other countries. Considering recent developments, the FDA is seeking additional information on current practices to ensure the safe use of fluorinated polyethylene in contact with food,” said the FDA in its letter to industry.

Those interested in providing information can submit comments electronically on Regulations.gov to docket number FDA-2022-N-1526.

Submit written/paper submissions with Docket No. FDA-2022-N-1526 for “Fluorinated Polyethylene Containers for Food Contact Use; Request for Information” to:
Dockets Management Staff (HFA-305)
Food and Drug Administration
5630 Fishers Lane, Rm 1061
Rockville, MD 20852

 

 

Pork

USDA FSIS Eyes New Salmonella Standards for Raw Pork Products

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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Pork

The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is considering new Salmonella performance standards focused on raw pork products, due to concerns about recent Salmonella outbreaks linked to these products. The concerns were raised in a study, “Temporal Changes in the Proportion of Salmonella Outbreaks Associated with Twelve Broad Commodity Classes in the United States,” published by the FSIS in Epidemiology & Infection.

The study examined changes in the proportion of foodborne Salmonella outbreaks attributed to 12 commodity groups between 1998 and 2017. Amongst the 12 commodity groups, only pork demonstrated a significant increasing trend—between 1998 and 2017, the estimated proportion of Salmonella outbreaks attributable to pork increased from 4% to 18%—while the proportion of outbreaks for other commodity groups remained essentially unchanged or constant during the 20-year study period.

“Amongst meat and poultry commodities, the consistent and significant increase in the proportion of pork-associated outbreaks is of concern,” noted authors Michael S. Williams and Eric D. Ebel. “Pork ranks as the third most frequently consumed meat commodity in the United States, yet only the chicken and the fruits–nuts commodities are responsible for a larger average proportion of outbreaks in the later years of the dataset. This suggests that the risk of illness per serving from pork may have increased and is high relative to the other meat and poultry commodities.”

The USDA FSIS will be using the results of this study, in addition to public comments on the proposed performance standards for Salmonella on pork products, to inform the development of new policies targeted to reduce Salmonella illnesses attributable to pork.