Jeff Witte, DNV

Does Your Organization Need a Tool to Assess Risks to the Psychological Well-being of Its Employees?

By Jeff Witte
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Jeff Witte, DNV

The current pandemic has faced us with unexpected feelings of uncertainty, loneliness and loss. For many people the hustling and bustling environment of productive interaction and communication was the world, within which they gladly spent most of their lives. Recognition, encouragement, appreciative looks, words of respect, collaboration, competition, and workplace friendships have been abruptly taken away. This has left us face to face with computer screens and outdated icons of co-worker’s faces.

As a result, the psychological well-being of employees has become a key factor in performance and productivity at work. To assist organizations with best practices in addressing employee well-being, the International Organization for Standardization has developed ISO 45003 standard.

ISO 45003 – Occupational health and safety management – Psychological health and safety at work – Guidelines for managing psychosocial risks, is an occupational health and safety management standard, which now covers “many areas that can impact a worker’s psychological health, including ineffective communication, excessive pressure, poor leadership and organizational culture”, as stated in the description on ISO.org. It will also help to meet the requirements of ISO 45001 (previously known as OHSAS), the world’s standard for a physical occupational health and safety management system.

Today, organizations can take preventative measures for securing their staff’s mental and physical well-being by implementing ISO 45003. This best practice guidance document covers elements such as:

  • How to identify, recognize and assess risk factors that may psychologically impair the workforce
  • How to determine necessary changes for improvement
  • How to control potential hazards and manage them effectively

Norma McCormick, Project Leader of the ISO technical committee that developed the standard, said on ISO.com, “While many have felt powerless about the impact of recent events, there are many things that can be done to build the resilience of staff and promote a strong organizational culture. This standard brings together international best practice in this area and is relevant to companies of all types and sizes.”

This global standard provides simple and practical ways for organizations to prioritize protection of employees, and others, who are associated with the organization’s activities.

This compilation of best practices will assist organizations with the recognition of psychosocial hazards and risks such as stress, bullying, harassment, violence in the workplace and the like.
These risks, if ignored or unchecked, can cause negative effects on the health, safety and well-being of employees, thus affecting total organizational performance. More importantly, these risks and hazards can lead to health conditions such as diabetes, cardio-vascular disorders and insomnia which, oftentimes, leads to behavior changes like overeating and alcohol and drug abuse.

The potential detrimental impact on employees’ commitment, productivity, and job satisfaction are clear. Organizations that do not recognize the risks and hazards, or choose to ignore them, will see increased absence from work due to sick leave, high turnover, declining quality of products and/or services, which in turn can cause additional expenses or layoffs, litigation and incident investigations resulting in low morale and damage to the brand.

If you’ve been looking for guidance and best practice in dealing with workforce health and safety in these trying times, take a look at 45003 and its potential benefits:

  1. High levels of discretionary effort
  2. Improved recruitment, retention and diversity
  3. Enhanced worker engagement
  4. Increased innovation
  5. Legal compliance
  6. Reduced absence from workplace due to stress, burnout, anxiety, and depression.1

As a guideline, ISO 45003 is a non-certifiable standard that can be assessed for compliance by an independent third party, like DNV. It can be conducted as a stand-alone assessment or in combination with an ISO 45001 (Occupational Health and Safety) management system certification audit.

Having achieved compliance to ISO 45003, you will demonstrate that you care and have the right measures in place for improvement of your workers’ health and well-being.

1Source: https://www.dnv.us/services/iso-45003-psychological-health-and-safety-at-work-204506

FDA

FDA Launches Office of Digital Transformation

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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FDA

Taking a step further in prioritizing technology and data modernization efforts, today the FDA announced the launch of a new Office of Digital Transformation. The office realigns the agency’s information technology, data management and cybersecurity roles into a central office that reports directly to the FDA commissioner. The reorganization will also help FDA further streamline its data and IT management processes, reducing duplication of processes, and promote best practices, technological efficiencies and shared services in a strategic and secure way.

“Good data management, built into all of our work, ultimately helps us meet and advance the FDA’s mission to ensure safe and effective products for American families,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, M.D., in an FDA news release. “The agency began these efforts because, as a science-based agency that manages massive amounts of data to generate important decisions and information for the public, innovation is at the heart of what we do. By prioritizing data and information stewardship throughout all of our operations, the American public is better assured of the safety of the nation’s food, drugs, medical devices and other products that the FDA regulates in this complex world. This reorganization strengthens our commitment to protecting and promoting public health by improving our regulatory processes with a solid data foundation built in at every level.”

 

FDA

FDA Announces 12 Winners of Traceability Challenge

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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FDA

Back in May, FDA launched a technology traceability challenge with the goal of promoting innovation in the development of scalable and affordable traceability technology tools for food operations of all sizes. Today, the agency announced the winning teams and their technologies:

  • FarmTabs. Free, downloadable software run on Microsoft Excel to aid small and mid-size farmers manage records for traceability/ farm-related metrics.
  • Freshly. Traceability and batch-tracking software for small businesses (including retailers, manufacturers and distributors).
  • HeavyConnect. Cloud-based digital traceability and compliance documentation solutions, including a mobile app for producers to capture data in the field and share it across the supply chain.
  • ItemChain. Item-level traceability to each party in the supply chain.
  • Kezzler. Solution uses self-service portals to generate item-level identifiers and associate homogenized datasets at the grower level through mobile applications.
  • Mojix. Uses industry standards to link traceability events for each item or lot throughout the supply chain in an open data network.
  • OpsSmart. Cloud-based traceability software solution for food safety, recall management, and traceability in a complex supply chain.
  • Precise’s. Traceability Suite that provides end-to-end supply chain tracking to all segments of the food market, using geospatial, machine learning and IoT technologies.
  • Roambee/GSM/Wiliot’s. Solution uses low-cost IoT sensor tags in with shipment visibility and verification technologies for end-to-end traceability.
  • Rfider. Software-as-a-service that captures, secures and shares critical event data along supply chains to consumers.
  • TagOne. A role-based data capture framework that updates an open source blockchain platform, and uses industry standards to ensure interoperability, and ease of use and data security.
  • Wholechain. Supply chain traceability system that uses blockchain technology to trace products back to the original source.

The videos submitted by each winning company are available on FDA’s webpage that announces the winners.

STOP Foodborne Illness

STOP Foodborne Illness Kicks Off National Food Safety Education Month with STOP3000 Campaign

By Maria Fontanazza
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STOP Foodborne Illness
Mitzi Baum, Stop Foodborne Illness
Mitzi Baum, CEO, STOP Foodborne Illness, will moderate a panel about STOP’s Recall Modernization Working Group during an episode of the 2021 Food Safety Consortium Virtual Conference Series. Join us on Thursday, October 14.

Each year the CDC estimates that more than 3000 people die as a result of contracting a foodborne illness. This month—National Food Safety Education Month—STOP Foodborne Illness is launching a fundraising campaign to educate the broader community about the issue, by encouraging participants to take 3000 steps per day.

STOP3000 begins today and runs through the entire month of September. This fundraiser will help STOP Foodborne Illness in its continued efforts to push food safety initiatives forward while engaging with key industry stakeholders, including federal regulatory agencies, food manufacturers, food retailers and the food service community.

“This is a way for everyone to participate in raising awareness about food safety,” Mitzi Baum, CEO of STOP told Food Safety Tech. “It’s about how you can make small changes in your daily habits to reduce the incidence of foodborne illness. People can sign up to walk, ask friends and family to post on their social media, or you can make a donation. Each day we’ll push out food safety facts and information, so you’re getting a little bit of knowledge every day during National Food Safety Education Month.”

If you’re interested in participating in the campaign, you can sign up on the JustGiving website. You can also search for and donate to current participants by typing “STOP3000” into the Search box on the JustGiving site.

EPA logo

EPA Stops Use of Pesticide Deemed Harmful to Children

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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EPA logo

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will no longer permit the use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos on food. The organophosphate insecticide, which is used on fruit and nut trees, broccoli, cauliflower, row crops and other agriculture, has been linked with neurotoxicity in children.

“Today EPA is taking an overdue step to protect public health. Ending the use of chlorpyrifos on food will help to ensure children, farmworkers, and all people are protected from the potentially dangerous consequences of this pesticide,” said Administrator Michael S. Regan in an agency news release. “After the delays and denials of the prior administration, EPA will follow the science and put health and safety first.”

The EPA also issued a Notice of Intent to Cancel under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act to cancel registered food uses of the pesticide.

Beretta Fratelli

Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Uncured Italian Meat, Fratelli Beretta Recalls 862,000 Pounds of Antipasto Products

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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Beretta Fratelli
Beretta Fratelli
Recalled product produced by Beretta Fratelli. More information available from the USDA website.

New Jersey-based Fratelli Beretta USA has recalled about 862,000 pounds of uncured antipasto products over concern of contamination with Salmonella Infantis and/or Salmonella Typhimurium. Sold nationwide, the Fratelli Beretta prepackaged Uncured Antipasto trays have a best by date of August 27, 2021 through February 11, 2022 and UPC code 073541305316. Thus far, 36 illnesses and 12 hospitalizations have been reported in connection with this outbreak, spanning 17 states. No deaths have been reported.

The Class I recall does not include Italian-style meats sliced at a deli.

The CDC continues its investigation into determining whether more products are linked to the outbreak.

Recall

Q2 Food Recalls Increase 20%, Undeclared Allergens and Quality Top Cause

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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Recall

For the 23rd quarter in a row, undeclared allergens were the top cause of food recalls and accounted for 45% of them in Q3 2021, according to Sedgwick’s latest Recall Index report. Within allergens, undeclared milk was the leading cause and prepared foods remained the leading category.

“Companies need to concentrate on the basics through the second half of 2021 and final emergence from the COVID-19 pandemic,” the report states. “Amid supply chain pressures, high consumer demand and worker health and safety concerns arising from the coronavirus, food businesses are rightfully focused on their ability to maintain and conduct their core operations in safe manner while delivering quality, safe products to customers.”

FDA Recalls: Notable Numbers (Q2 2021)

  • 106 recalls affecting 7.9 million units
  • 5.8 million units (nearly 69%) impacted by recalls were due to one nut recall
  • 19 recalls were a result of quality issues
  • 18 recalls were a result of foreign material contamination
  • 11 recalls were a result of bacterial contamination—6 from Listeria; 4 Salmonella; and 1 E. coli

USDA Recalls: Notable Numbers (Q2 2021)

  • Recalls increased from 10 (Q1) to 12, but numbers still low compared to 2019 quarterly averages
  • Units impacted dramatically dropped nearly 83% to 207,322 units
  • Undeclared allergens were top cause of recalls, accounting for nearly 42%
    • Soy milk and eggs were main allergens, but first recall of food products due to sesame also occurred
  • Other recall reasons were quality (2), lack of inspection (2), bacterial contamination (2) and foreign material contamination (1)
  • Beef products (93,551 pounds) most impacted category, followed by fish (46,804 pounds)

The report also pointed out that heavy metal regulation will have increased emphasis, as FDA has made it a priority as a result of a report released by Congress earlier this year indicating the presence of dangerous toxic heavy metals found in baby foods.

Coronavirus, COVID-19

Tyson Foods to Mandate COVID Vaccines, Will Other Food Companies Follow?

By Maria Fontanazza
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Coronavirus, COVID-19

In a controversial move, Tyson Foods is mandating that all of its U.S. employees receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The company is requiring that the leadership team be vaccinated by September 24, office workers by October 1, and frontline employees by November 1. However, the mandate is “subject to ongoing discussions with locations represented by unions”, according to the company website.

Tyson Foods, along with other meat processors, has been plagued with COVID-19 outbreaks during the course of the pandemic. In December the company went as far as naming its first chief medical officer, a new role to help promote health, safety and wellness.

“We did not take this decision lightly. We have spent months encouraging our team members to get vaccinated – today, under half of our team members are,” stated Donnie King, president & CEO of Tyson Foods, in a company memo titled, “Our Next Step in the Fight Against the Pandemic”. Half of U.S. employees equates to 56,000 workers. Frontline employees who are fully vaccinated will receive $200.

A union representing Tyson employees, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), is concerned over the fact that the company is requiring vaccination before FDA has provided full approval of any COVID-19 vaccine. “We believe the FDA must provide full approval of the vaccines and help address some of the questions and concerns that workers have,” said UFCW International President Marc Perrone in a statement. “Additionally, employers should provide paid time off so that their essential workers can receive the vaccine without having to sacrifice their pay, and can rest as needed while their body adjusts to the vaccine and strengthens their immune system to fight off the virus.”

UFCW also released the following figures on COVID-19 infections, exposures and deaths nationwide among its union members:

  • 482 frontline worker deaths and at least 96,600 frontline workers infected or exposed
  • 197 grocery worker deaths and at least 43,300 grocery workers infected or exposed
  • 132 meatpacking worker deaths and 22,400 meatpacking workers infected or exposed
  • 67 food processing worker deaths and 13,100 food processing workers infected or exposed

Will other companies in the industry follow suit?

Recall

McCormick & Company Initiates Voluntary Recall of Italian Seasoning Products and Frank’s RedHot Buffalo Ranch Seasoning

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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Recall

McCormick & Company, Inc. has initiated a voluntary recall of its McCormick Perfect Pinch Italian Seasoning, McCormick Culinary Italian Seasoning and Frank’s RedHot Buffalo Ranch Seasoning over concerns of Salmonella contamination. FDA uncovered the issue during routine testing.

The recalled products were shipped nationwide, as well as to Bermuda and Canada. between June 20 and July 21, 2021.

Thus far there have been no reports of illnesses related to this issue. McCormick has alerted customers and grocery retailers to remove and discard the product.

Attend the On-Demand Virtual Event:

Food Safety Hazards Series: Salmonella Detection, Mitigation, Control and Regulation

Food safety experts will discuss challenges and tangible best practices in Salmonella detection, mitigation and control, along with critical issues that the food industry faces with regards to the pathogen. This includes the journey and progress of petition to USDA on reforming and modernizing poultry inspections to reduce the incidence of Salmonella and Campylobacter; Salmonella detection, mitigation and control; and a case study on the pathogen involving crisis management.

Kathryn Birmingham, ImEpik

Ask the Expert: ImEPIK Discusses Supply Chain Controls and PCQI Responsibilities Under FSMA

Kathryn Birmingham, ImEpik

Dr. Kathryn Birmingham, one of ImEPIK’s PCQI training experts, provides guidance to Juan, a future PCQI in a plant that receives ingredients for ready-to-eat energy bars.

Juan: I’m new on the food safety team at a small company and the next person to be trained as a PCQI. Our team wants to make sure we are meeting the requirements in our food safety plan under the Preventive Controls for Human Food Rule in FSMA. There are a lot of players along our ingredients supply chain. Who is ultimately responsible for product safety?

Kathryn Birmingham: As you know Juan, if you manufacture, process, hold or pack an ingredient or food product, food safety is your responsibility. For all of the players along the supply chain FSMA focuses on risk assessment and identifying hazards and preventive controls when required. Your team must have a plan and implement verification activities for the supply chain preventive controls for the food ingredients with hazards you have identified needing a control.

Juan: So, we are sourcing chocolate from a number of suppliers or our bars. They all provide COAs with the shipment that tell us the chocolate is manufactured to be free of pathogens like Salmonella. Usually we get a laboratory report on the sample testing for vegetative pathogens from the supplier for each shipment. We put that in our food safety plan to verify that the hazard was controlled by the supplier. But one of the suppliers has not provided sample testing results we requested. We have finished product to get out the door, but we have to ensure our product doesn’t harm consumers. On top of that, we can’t risk a costly product recall.

Kathryn: Right, Juan. That Certificate of Analysis may not be enough to verify that your chocolate supplier is effectively controlling for the hazard of Salmonella. For your product process flow the chocolate will never have a kill step to mitigate the hazard. If you cannot be sure that the hazard has been significantly minimized or prevented before receipt of the chocolate – per section 117.410 in the PCHF Rule – you have some choices to make. If you are using a foreign supplier there are considerations if the supplier is or is not in compliance with the FDA’s Foreign Supplier Verification Program.

Juan: So it looks like we may have to take on the cost and additional time of sample testing?

Kathryn: Remember, supplier approval is based on performance. If your supplier does not give you the evidence for verification you may need to conduct an onsite audit, perform sampling and testing and review other supplier records. You decide if the supplier meets your Supply Chain Control Program or Foreign Supply Chain Control Program.

Juan: My team members need to learn more about what we need to do to comply with FSMA and the PCHF Rule. Tell me about what we can learn through PCQI training.

Kathryn: Preventive Controls Qualified Individuals are trained in a methodical process for decision-making on hazards and preventive controls. The best training fosters a positive food safety culture and includes practice on team scenarios.

A PCQI must be able to identify hazards associated with a product and process, determine the appropriate preventive controls and develop associated monitoring and corrective actions for hazards that are identified. PCQIs must also establish and implement appropriate verification activities for the application of preventive controls. All of that is included in the food safety plan they oversee.

Juan: What choices do we have for online PCQI training?

Kathryn: First choose your food safety team members. If your company is registering with the FDA you are required to have at least one PCQI at each facility. Most companies train multiple or back up employees for the PCQI role to ensure they are covered during vacations, sick time, various shifts or employee turnover.

Look for courses that include the FDA’s standard curriculum, like ImEPIK’s PCQI Online. The PCHF Rule does not require that PCQIs hold a specific training certificate, but FDA inspectors want to see that the PCQI has been successful in a training with the requisite learning objectives and content. There are many PCQI training options on the market. Some providers claim that their training is the only accepted training – that’s simply not true.

Look for courses that have a multiple of scenarios with different food products and challenge situations for practice and wider breadth of learning.

ImEPIK’s PCQI Course is interactive and 100% online. The ten-module training is entirely self-paced thus does not require travel or scheduling on-line webinars or sessions. You simply log in, work through the course as you have time, and earn your completion certificate to document in your food safety plan. If you take a break, the work you have done will be saved, and you pick up where you left off when you return to the course. This allows for reflection and practice in the workplace as you move through the modules.

It’s an ever changing environment for the food safety professional and quality training makes a big difference in keeping up with changes and staying regulatory compliant. Take PCQI Online and position yourself and your facility for food safety success.

About Kathryn Birmingham, Ph.D

Kathryn Birmingham, ImEpikKathryn Birmingham, Ph.D., is Chief Operating Officer of ImEPIK. Birmingham leads the company’s course development teams and ensures that the online training solutions are of high quality. She is certified as a Lead Instructor to teach the FSPCA’s Preventive Controls Qualified Individual course.

Dr. Birmingham taught graduate and doctoral students at the University of Florida and served as Dean of Arts and Sciences at Florida State College. At the latter she lead the Biotechnology Degree program and Institute for Food Safety analytical lab. She was Principal Investigator (PI) for its National Science Foundation studies.

Content Sponsored by ImEPIK.