New Era of Smarter Food Safety FSMA, FDA
Beltway Beat

Data and Technology in the New Era of Smarter Food Safety

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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New Era of Smarter Food Safety FSMA, FDA

There is only one week left to submit your comments to the docket on the New Era of Smarter Food Safety. FDA is seeking feedback on topics discussed during the public meeting as well as specific questions they have identified in the topics for consideration document on FDA’s meeting page. FDA encourages anyone interested in submitting comments to
the docket, to please do so by the June 24, 2024 deadline. Comments can be submitted at www.regulations.gov [2] to docket number FDA-2024-N-1744.

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USDA Awards bioMérieux GENE-UP® CAMPLYLOBACTER as Method of Choice for Campylobacter Detection

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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USDA announced that the agency has awarded bioMérieux’s Gene-Up® Campylobacter as the method of
choice for Campylobacter Detection in USDA FSIS Labs. GENE-UP® CAMPYLOBACTER is a real-time PCR-based solution that delivers results in under an hour and is AOAC validated for a variety of enrichment medias.

“We are thrilled to be awarded this contract by the USDA-FSIS. With the inclusion of GENE-UP® CAMPYLOBACTER, bioMérieux now has the most FSIS methods of choice for microbiology than any other diagnostics provider,” says Miguel Villa, Sr. Vice President, Americas, Industrial Applications, at bioMérieux. “This is a testament to our continued dedication to providing innovation within the animal protein sector and the food industry at large, reinforcing GENE-UP® as the full solution for all molecular testing needs in one place.”

The GENE-UP® CAMPYLOBACTER assay is the latest of bioMérieux’s molecular diagnostic solutions to be recognized by food safety regulatory bodies in the United States. Earlier this year, bioMérieux announced a research collaboration to improve microbial detection of food-borne pathogens with the Food and Drug Administration, and in 2022,
the USDA named bioMérieux’s GENE-UP® QUANT Salmonella quantification method of choice in all FSIS laboratories, with both GENE-UP® QUANT Salmonella and TEMPO® solutions currently included in the USDA Microbiology Laboratory Guidebook (MLG).

“Our Augmented Diagnostics approach helps food industry leaders go beyond the test results and harness data, genomics, and diagnostic insights to solve the toughest problems,” says John Shultz, Sr. Director, Sales and Marketing, Industrial Applications, at bioMérieux. “The recognition of GENE-UP® CAMPYLOBACTER as the method of choice of the USDA is yet another way that bioMérieux helps facilitate and advance the science of food safety and protect public health.”

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Beltway Beat

Biden-Harris Administration Announces National Strategy to Reduce Food Loss and Waste and Recycle Organics

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the White House announced the National Strategy for Reducing Food Loss and Waste and Recycling Organics as part of President Biden’s whole-of-government approach to tackle climate change, feed people, address environmental justice, and promote a circular economy.

According to the USDA’s press release, the strategy released on June 12 provides tangible goals that the U.S. government partners along with retailers and consumers can work toward to help further prevent the loss and waste of food, increase recycling of food and other organic materials to support a more circular economy for all, reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, save households and businesses money, and build cleaner, healthier communities.

“USDA is committed to reducing food loss and waste, facilitating many programs and activities to engage farmers, producers, communities and businesses in this collective effort,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “This National Strategy charts a course to reduce our nation’s food loss and waste by 50% by 2030, and I am encouraged by the actions outlined for USDA and our federal partners. Everyone has a role to play in reducing food loss and waste, and I hope that these federal commitments will inspire and catalyze action in the private sector and communities around the U.S.”

“The FDA is committed to completing the actions outlined in the National Strategy that incentivize and encourage food loss and waste prevention and organics recycling,” said FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf, M.D. “Along with the FDA, USDA and EPA efforts, U.S. consumers and retailers play an important role in meeting the National Strategy’s goal of reducing food loss and waste by 2030. As part of the release of this strategy, the FDA has made important resources available to guide, support, and accelerate their food loss and waste activities including the 2022 Food Code, Tips to Reduce Food Waste and the Food Loss and Waste Social Media Toolkit. We encourage all stakeholders to take advantage of these resources as we work together to reduce food loss and waste.”

The strategy drives progress toward the National Food Loss and Waste Reduction Goal to reduce the loss and waste of food by 50% by 2030.

The strategy highlights four objectives:
Objective 1: Prevent food loss.
Objective 2: Prevent food waste.
Objective 3: Increase the recycling rate for all organic waste.
Objective 4: Support policies that incentivize and encourage the prevention of food loss and waste and organics recycling.

For each objective, the strategy highlights actions that USDA, EPA, and FDA could take. Some of the priority USDA actions include:
* Investing $2.5 million from USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to rigorously test and measure the effectiveness of different consumer messages to encourage households to reduce food waste, in preparation for a National Wasted Food Prevention Campaign.
* Funding a new NIFA $1.5 million Center for Research, Behavioral Economics, and Extension on Food Loss and Waste to create meaningful momentum on food loss and waste prevention among land-grant universities, their partners and external stakeholders.
* Funding research and development on new food loss and waste innovations, such as innovative new packaging technology and cultivars to extend the shelf life of food and prevent loss.
* The Risk Management Agency (RMA) is working with farmers, crop insurance agents, and gleaning organizations to encourage the reduction of on-farm food loss.

The strategy also highlights the importance of public-private partnerships in reducing food loss and waste. On June 1, the three agencies renewed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Food Waste Reduction Alliance (FWRA), which is comprised of the Consumer Brands Association, FMI – The Food Industry Association, and the National Restaurant Association. This public-private partnership will explore actions to reach industry sectors, through efforts such as targeted industry resources, tools, and guidance.

Additionally, USDA and EPA have been actively growing the U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions pledge, through which food business have publicly committed to reducing food loss and waste by 50% by 2030 in their U.S. operations. 2030 Champions include industry giants such as Starbucks, Hilton, and Kroger.

The National Strategy builds on USDA’s prior work to reduce food loss and waste, including over $60 million in investments and activities that USDA has undertaken to reduce food loss and waste, including those announced in May.
For more information about Food Loss and Waste Reduction activities visit:
* USDA: Food Loss and Waste
* FDA: Food Loss and Waste


Learn more about The Impacts of Food Loss and Waste (FLW) and Food Donation at the Food Safety Consortium Conference, October 20-22 in Washington DC. This session will discuss how unique solutions such as thorough data tracking and predictive analytics in addition to a focus on food safety ultimately provides bottom-line benefits and positive community health outcomes. Presenters:

  • Al Baroudi, MS, Ph.D. Vice President, QA & Food Safety, The Cheesecake Factory Incorporated
  • Glenda Lewis, MSPH, Supervisory Consumer Safety Officer Director, Retail Food Protection Staff, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
  • Mike Learakos, CEO, Abound Food Care

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GFSI, The Consumer Goods Forum

GFSI Steering Committee Sanctions Equitable Food Initiative (EFI)

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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GFSI, The Consumer Goods Forum
The GFSI Steering Committee has suspended recognition of certification programmes owned by the Equitable Food Initiaive until evidence of re-alignment to GFSI Benchmarking requirements v 2020 is provided by the Certification Programme Owner EFI. This suspension took effect on 7th June 2024.
As a reminder, the scope of GFSI recognition applies to the following certification programme owned by Equitable Food Initiative:
Food Safety Standards, Guidance, & Interpretations Version 2.0, November 30th, 2018, specifically against GFSI scopes:
●     BI Farming of Plants (other than grains and pulses)
●     BIII  Pre-process Handling of Plant Products.

As part of the GFSI Governance Rules, EFI has a right to appeal this decision. The decision to suspend EFI will remain in effect unless and until any appeal is successful.

GFSI have prepared a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for all potentially impacted GFSI stakeholders. If you cannot find answers to your specific questions in our FAQ section, please contact gfsibm@theconsumergoodsforum.com

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From the Editor’s Desk

June 7 is World Food Safety Day

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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This year, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) sixth annual World Food Safety Day is June 7. The idea is  it will draw attention to food safety incidents. This year’s theme underlines the importance of being prepared for food safety incidents, no matter how mild or severe they can be.

According to the WHO’s website, Food safety incidents are situations where there is a potential or confirmed health risk associated with food consumption. A food incident can happen, for example, due to accidents, inadequate controls, food fraud or natural events. While being ready to manage food safety incidents requires dedicated efforts from policymakers, food safety authorities, farmers and food business operators, consumers also can play an active role.

A communication toolkit was developed by WHO and FAO to present information about the sixth World Food Safety Day, and to share ideas on how to take part in the celebrations on (or around) 7 June 2024 and can be downloaded here.

Cows, dairy, farms

USDA, FDA and HHS Announce Funding to Fight Avian Flu in Dairy Products

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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Cows, dairy, farms

U.S. regulatory agencies are working together to control and mitigate the risks of H5N1 in the dairy industry. The USDA announced assistance for producers with H5N1-affected premises to improve on-site biosecurity in order to reduce the spread. In addition, USDA is taking steps to make available financial tools for lost milk production in herds affected by H5N1. Funding is available to:

Protect against the potential for spread between human and animals. The USDA will provide financial support (up to $2,000 per affected premises per month) for producers who supply personal protective equipment (PPE) to employees and/or provide outerwear uniform laundering, for producers of affected herds who facilitate the participation of their workers in USDA/CDC workplace and farmworker study.

Workers who participate in the study are also eligible for financial incentives to compensate them for their time, regardless of whether the study is led by federal, state, or local public health professionals.

Support producers in biosecurity planning and implementation. The USDA will provide support (up to $1,500 per affected premises) to develop biosecurity plans based on existing secure milk supply plans. This includes recommended enhanced biosecurity for individuals that frequently move between dairy farms (milk haulers, veterinarians, feed trucks, AI technicians, etc). In addition, USDA will provide a $100 payment to producers who purchase and use an in-line sampler for their milk system.

Provide funding for heat treatment to dispose of milk in a bio secure fashion. If a producer establishes a system to heat treat all waste milk before disposal, USDA will pay the producer up to $2,000 per affected premises per month.

Reimburse producers for veterinarian costs associated with confirmed positive H5N1 premises. Veterinary costs are eligible to be covered from the initial date of positive confirmation at NVSL for that farm, up to $10,000 per affected premises.

Offset shipping costs for influenza A testing at laboratories in the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN). USDA will pay for the cost of shipping samples to NAHLN labs for testing. USDA will pay actual shipping costs, not to exceed $50 per shipment for up to two shipments per month for each affected premises. Testing at NAHLN laboratories for samples associated with this event (e.g., pre-movement, testing of sick/suspect animals, samples from concerned producers) is already being conducted at no-cost to the producer.

Compensate producers for loss of milk production. USDA is taking steps to make funding available from the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm-raised Fish Program (ELAP) to compensate eligible producers with positive herds who experience loss of milk production.

Work with states to limit movement of lactating cattle. USDA will work with and support the actions of states with affected herds as they consider movement restrictions within their borders to further limit the spread of H5N1 between herds to reduce further spread of this virus.

USDA will make $98 million in existing funds available to the Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to fund these initiatives. If needed, USDA has the authority, with Congressional notification, to make additional funds available.

HHS

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) also announced new funding investments through CDC and FDA totaling $101 million to mitigate the risk of H5N1 and continue its work to test, prevent, and treat H5N1. This includes an additional $93 million to support current response efforts for avian influenza.

These investments will allow CDC to bolster testing and laboratory capacity, surveillance, genomic sequencing, support jurisdictions and partner efforts to reach high risk populations and initiate a new wastewater surveillance pilot. The funding includes:

  • $34 million in Testing and Laboratory Capacity to:
    • Develop and optimize assays that can be used to sequence virus independent of virus identification.
    • Assess circulating H5N1 viruses for any concerning viral changes, including increased transmissibility or severity in humans or decreasing efficacy of diagnostics or antivirals.
    • Support the ability of STLT Public Health Labs throughout the country to surge their testing abilities, including support for the additional costs of shipping human avian influenza specimens, which are select agents.
    • Through the International Reagent Resource (IRR), support manufacture, storage, and distribution of roughly one thousand additional influenza diagnostic test kits (equaling nearly around one million additional tests) for virologic surveillance. The IRR would also provide influenza reagents for research and development activities on a global scale. This is in addition to current influenza testing capacity at CDC and in STLT public health and DOD labs, which is approximately 490,000 H5-specific tests.
    • Address the manufacturer issue detected with current avian flu test kits.
    • Initiate avian flu testing in one commercial laboratory.
  • $29 million in Epidemiology, Surveillance, and Data Analytics to:
    • Scale up existing efforts to monitor people who are exposed to infected birds and poultry to accommodate workers at likely many more poultry facilities, as well as potentially workers at other agricultural facilities and other people (e.g., hunters) who may be exposed to species that pose a threat.
    • Scale up contact tracing efforts and data reporting to accommodate monitoring of contacts of additional sporadic cases.
    • Support the collection and characterization of additional clinical specimens through established surveillance systems from regions with large numbers of exposed persons to enhance the ability to detect any unrecognized cases in the community if they occur.
    • Expand respiratory virus surveillance to capture more samples from persons with acute respiratory illness in different care settings.
    • Support continuation and possible expansion of existing respiratory surveillance platforms and vaccine effectiveness platforms.
  • $14 million in Genomic Sequencing to:
    • Provide bioinformatics and data analytics support for genomic sequencing at CDC that supports surveillance needs for enhanced monitoring.
    • Expand sequencing capacity for HPAI in state-level National Influenza Reference Centers (NIRCs), Influenza Sequencing Center (ISC), and Pathogen Genomic Centers of Excellence.
  • $8 million in Vaccine Activities to analyze circulating H5N1 viruses to determine whether current Candidate Vaccine Viruses (CVVs) would be effective and develop new ones if necessary.
  • $5 million in STLT Jurisdiction/Partner Funding to:support partner efforts to reach high-risk populations.
  • $3 million in Wastewater Surveillance to initiate wastewater pilot to evaluate the use case for HPAI in up to 10 livestock and implement a study to evaluate the use of Influenza A sequencing in wastewater samples for highly pathogenic avian influenza typing.

Additionally, the FDA announced an additional $8 million to support its ongoing response activities. This funding will support the agency’s ability to validate pasteurization criteria, conduct surveillance at different points in the milk production system, bolster laboratory capacity and provide needed resources to train staff on biosecurity procedures. Additionally, these funds will help support H5N1 activities in partnership with state co-regulatory partners, who administer state programs as part of the federal/state milk safety system. It may also be used to allow the FDA to partner with universities on critical research questions.

 

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FDA Publishes Final Rule on Agricultural Water To Enhance Produce Safety

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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On May 2, the FDA published a final rule on agricultural water developed to enhance the safety of produce. The revised requirements are intended to enhance public health by improving the safety of water used in produce cultivation. The revisions are also designed to be practical across various agricultural water systems, uses, and practices, while remaining adaptable to future advancements in agricultural water quality science.

The final rule replaces certain pre-harvest agricultural water requirements for covered produce (other than sprouts) in the 2015 Produce Safety Rule with requirements for systems-based agricultural water assessments to minimize potential risks associated with pre-harvest agricultural water. Specifically, this rule:

  • Establishes requirements for agricultural water assessments that evaluate a variety of factors that are key determinants of contamination risks associated with pre-harvest agricultural water. This includes an evaluation of the water system, water use practices, crop characteristics, environmental conditions, potential impacts on water from adjacent and nearby land, and other relevant factors.
  • Includes testing pre-harvest agricultural water as part of an assessment in certain circumstances.
  • Requires farms to implement effective mitigation measures within specific timeframes based on findings from their assessments. Hazards related to certain activities associated with adjacent and nearby land uses are subject to expedited mitigation.
  • Adds new options for mitigation measures, providing farms with additional flexibility in responding to findings from their pre-harvest agricultural water assessments.

Farms are required to conduct assessments of their pre-harvest agricultural water annually, and whenever a significant change occurs, to identify any conditions likely to introduce known or reasonably foreseeable hazards into or onto covered produce or food contact surfaces.

These revised requirements reflect findings from investigations of several produce-related outbreaks as well as feedback from a variety of stakeholders on the agricultural water requirements in the 2015 Produce Safety Rule. Dates for compliance with the new pre-harvest agricultural water requirements for non-sprout covered produce are as follows:

  • Very small farms: 2 years, 9 months after the effective date of the final rule
  • Small farms: 1 year, 9 months after the effective date of the final rule
  • All other farms: 9 months after the effective date of the final rule

The rule does not alter existing requirements for agricultural water for sprouts, for which compliance dates have passed. It also does not alter existing requirements for harvest and post-harvest agricultural water activities. Additional information about compliance dates can be found on the FDA Proposes Compliance Date Extension for Pre-Harvest Agricultural Water Requirements webpage.

The FDA will work with its state partners to implement these changes. The agency plans to work closely with state regulators, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA), educators, and others, including the Produce Safety Alliance, to provide training to implement these changes to the agricultural water requirements.

 

 

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USDA Declares Salmonella an Adulterant in Raw Breaded Stuffed Chicken Products

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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On April 26, USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) officially declared Salmonella an adulterant in raw breaded stuffed chicken products when they exceed a 1 colony forming unit (CFU) per gram or higher for Salmonella contamination.

The USDA FSIS announced its intent to declare Salmonella an adulterant in raw breaded stuffed chicken back in August 2022. This final determination is part of FSIS’ broader efforts to reduce Salmonella illnesses associated with the raw poultry supply in the United States. The agency noted that it intends to address Salmonella contamination in other raw poultry products later this year.

“Under President Biden’s leadership, USDA is taking significant steps toward keeping American consumers safe from foodborne illness,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “This final determination marks the first time that Salmonella is being declared an adulterant in a class of raw poultry products. This policy change is important because it will allow us to stop the sale of these products when we find levels of Salmonella contamination that could make people sick.”

Under this final determination, FSIS will consider any raw breaded stuffed chicken products that include a chicken component that tested positive for Salmonella at 1 CFU per gram or higher to be adulterated. It will carry out verification procedures, including sampling and testing of the raw incoming chicken component of these products prior to stuffing and breading, to ensure producing establishments control Salmonella in these products. If the chicken component in these products does not meet this standard, the product lot represented by the sampled component would not be permitted to be used to produce the final raw breaded stuffed chicken products. The determination, including FSIS’ sampling and verification testing, will be effective 12 months after its publication in the Federal Register.

In determining that Salmonella is an adulterant in raw breaded stuffed chicken products, FSIS considered the best available science and data using similar criteria as in its 1994, 1999, and 2011 E. coli policymaking. When FSIS declared seven Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) strains to be adulterants in select raw beef products, it relied on several factors, including the available information on serotypes linked to human illnesses, infectious dose, severity of illnesses and typical consumer preparation practices associated with a product. The breaded stuffed chicken products determination relied on the same factors.

FSIS and its public health partners have investigated 14 Salmonella outbreaks and approximately 200 illnesses associated with these products since 1998. The most recent outbreak was in 2021 and resulted in illnesses across 11 states. These products account for less than 0.15% of the total domestic chicken supply, but outbreaks linked to these products represented approximately 5% of all chicken-associated outbreaks in the U.S. during 1998-2020.

Raw breaded stuffed chicken products are pre-browned and may appear cooked, but the chicken is raw. The products are typically cooked by consumers from a frozen state, which increases the risk of the product not reaching the internal temperature needed to destroy Salmonella. Despite FSIS’ and industry’s efforts to improve labeling, these products continue to be associated with Salmonella illness outbreaks, said the USDA.

To view the final determination, visit the FSIS Federal Register Rules webpage.

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American Frozen Food Institute and Food Safety Tech Join Forces for 2024 Food Safety Consortium Conference & Expo

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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The American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) and Food Safety Tech proudly announce their partnership on the 12thAnnual Food Safety Consortium, a conference for food safety and quality assurance professionals that equips attendees with cutting-edge knowledge, practical skills, and a collaborative network to enhance their professional development as champions of food safety and innovation in the production of foods and beverages.

“AFFI’s longstanding history of advancing food safety practices across the frozen value chain through scientific research, innovation, education and training is unparalleled,” said AFFI President and CEO Alison Bodor. “Our collaboration with Food Safety Tech for The Food Safety Consortium exemplifies AFFI’s steadfast commitment to cultivating a food safety culture and building a community among our member companies and the broader food industry that empowers employees to make critical food safety decisions and take preventive actions that reduce the odds of their facilities becoming a recall statistic.”

“Our partnership with AFFI is a significant enhancement to the Food Safety Consortium Conference,” said Rick Biros, publisher of Food Safety Tech and director of the Food Safety Consortium. “AFFI’s commitment to food safety and professional education will provide attendees with an unparalleled opportunity to enhance their learning, connect with regulators and industry leaders, and ultimately better serve their organizations and end users.”

This collaboration underscores the shared commitment of AFFI and Food Safety Tech to elevate industry standards, and the exploration of key scientific and regulatory developments impacting public health and safety and its implications for food production. The Food Safety Consortium represents an invaluable opportunity for professionals to engage with leading experts, exchange insights, and collectively advance best practices in food safety.

Join AFFI and Food Safety Tech at The Food Safety Consortium October 20-22, 2024, in Washington D.C., where expertise and knowledge sharing leads to practical implementation, and together, we pave the way for a safer, more resilient food industry.

About AFFI

The American Frozen Food Institute is the member-driven national trade association representing all segments of the frozen food supply chain from manufacturers to suppliers and distributors. AFFI advocates before legislative and regulatory entities on the industry’s behalf, serves as the voice for the industry, and convenes industry leadership to create an environment where frozen foods are essential in today’s dynamic marketplace.

About Food Safety Tech

Food Safety Tech is a digital media community for food industry professionals interested in food safety and quality. We inform, educate and connect food manufacturers and processors, retail & food service, food laboratories, growers, suppliers and vendors, and regulatory agencies with original, in-depth features and reports, curated industry news and user-contributed content, and live and virtual events that offer knowledge, perspectives, strategies and resources to facilitate an environment that fosters safer food for consumers.

About The Food Safety Consortium

The Food Safety Consortium is a business-to-business conference focused on Food Protection that has food safety, food integrity and food defense as the foundation of its educational content. With a unique focus on science, technology and compliance, the “Consortium” brings together food safety and quality assurance professionals for education, networking and discussion geared toward solving the key challenges facing the food safety industry today.

Cargill Honored with 2024 Edison Award for Environmental Solutions

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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This month Cargill was honored with the Edison Award for Social & Cultural Impact – Environmental Solutions, named for American inventor Thomas Alva Edison, the awards recognize top innovative products and business leaders from around the world.

Cargill received the Gold award in Social & Cultural Impact – Environmental Solutions for its “1000 Farmers Endless Prosperity” program, which aims to improve farmers’ welfare, enhance their productivity, and foster social and digital transformation in agriculture by promoting regenerative agricultural practices. Since its launch, the program has benefitted more than 6,000 farmers across 21 provinces in Türkiye, covering 70,000 hectares dedicated to corn, sunflower, and canola production. Participants receive free training, access to digital agricultural tools and consulting services, empowering them to adopt sustainable practices effectively.

“Innovations begin with innovators. Our teams are continuously reimagining what’s possible and laying the groundwork to deliver big and bold innovations in food and agriculture,” said Florian Schattenmann, Cargill’s chief technology officer and vice president of Innovation and Research & Development. “This recognition underscores the wonderful work from our teams and our purpose to nourish the world and deliver solutions that are better for our health, environment, and people.”

Edison Award nominations are reviewed by the Edison Awards’ Steering Committee and an executive judging body. The panel is comprised of more than 2,000 senior business executives and academics from the fields of product development, design, engineering, science, marketing and education, as well as past winners.