If you’ve been keeping up with our previous Quizzes you know that you can search for hundreds of specific food commodities in HorizonScan and see what types of issues have been affecting them over the past 15-20 years. This week we’re going to flip the script and look for a specific hazard – Salmonella Agona – and see how much you know about it.
Hazard Question #7 – Since 1999 HorizonScan has recorded 194 reports of Salmonella Agona, spread over a wide range of food products. What food group has accounted for 50% of those reports?
Hint: Okay, we know this is a toughie and even highly experienced QA managers and food scientists may be hard pressed to come up with the answer. But if you had to know, how would you figure it out? If you had several hours to burn on Google searches you might be able to get some clues, but with HorizonScan you could have the answer in less than a minute by doing a keyword search on “agona” then sorting the 194 results by Commodity Group. The answer would jump right off the page.
With more than 150,000 records dating back as far as 1999, HorizonScan provides an ocean of valuable data on food quality and safety issues that have been gathered and updated daily from more than 120 reliable sources. Its user-friendly interface makes it simple to search the data by commodity, country of origin, hazard type, date, supplier name, etc., or you can do keyword or combination word searches for almost any terms related to food quality. For example, a search on “agona AND infant” will bring up the thirteen cases where Salmonella Agona was found in infant formula or food.
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The HorizonScan Team at FoodChain ID
Answer to last week’s Quiz – Over the past 20 years, what was the second most reported issue in chicken meat? What about over the past 5 years? The past 1 year?
We know that Salmonella is far and away the #1 culprit when it comes to adulterants in chicken meat. If we combine all types of Salmonella (the first and second bars in the three graphs below) we see that the second biggest issue over the past 20 years has been Veterinary Drug residues. So, that must mean we should make drug detection one of our top priorities, right? Well … not necessarily.
If you look at the second chart you’ll see that in the past 5 years Veterinary Drugs don’t even make our top 5 hazard list anymore. Instead, the #2 issue during over the past 5 years has been Campylobacter. In other words, there were a lot of Vet Drug reports 5-20 years ago, but not so many since then.
And if you look at the third chart you’ll see that in the past 1 year Listeria has elbowed its way into second place, after the two Salmonella categories.
Conclusion: While it’s true that Veterinary Drugs have historically been a problem in chicken meat, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should allocate much of your testing and preventive control budget to that issue. Why? Because there is scant evidence that it’s currently a significant issue. While I would never discourage anyone from testing for any particular adulterant, I would say that if you’re looking to optimize your budget and your resources, it pays to use HorizonScan to see what the actual threats are right now and to adapt your budget to that current reality. Otherwise you may waste your time and money chasing ghosts from the past!