GFSI, The Consumer Goods Forum

Reimagining Food Safety Through Transparency and Open Dialogue

By Maria Fontanazza
No Comments
GFSI, The Consumer Goods Forum

Last year’s annual GFSI Conference was held in Seattle just weeks before the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic. This year’s event looked very different, as it joined the virtual event circuit—with hundreds of attendees gathering from across the globe, but from the comfort of their homes and offices. The 2021 GFSI Conference reflected on lessons learned over the past year, the fundamentals of building a better food system, and the idea that food safety is a collaborative effort that also encompasses training programs, effectively leveraging data and capacity building.

The pandemic provided the opportunity to reimagine safer, more resilient and sustainable food systems, said Dr. Naoki Yamamoto, universal health coverage, assistant director-general, UHC, Healthier populations at WHO. She also offered three clear messages that came out of the pandemic:

  • Food safety is a public health priority and a basic human right. Safe food is not a luxury.
  • Food safety is a shared responsibility. Everyone in the food chain must understand this responsibility and work towards a common goal.
  • Good public private partnership can bring new opportunities and innovative solutions for food safety. We need to seek more collaborative approaches when working across sectors to achieve foods safety.

During the session “Ready for Anything: How Resiliency and Technology Will Build Consumer Trust and Help Us Mitigate Disruption in the 21st Century”, industry leaders discussed how the pandemic reminded us that a crisis can come in many forms, and how applying the right strategy and technology can help us remain resilient and equipped to address the challenges, said Erica Sheward, GFSI director.

“When you think about business resiliency—it’s about our own, but most importantly, it’s about helping our customers become more resilient to those disruptions,” said Christophe Beck, president and CEO of Ecolab. He added that being able to predict disruptions, help customers respond to those disruptions, and provide real-time control to learn and prepare for the next pandemic or serious crisis is critical. Companies need to ensure their technology systems and contingency plans are ready to go, advised David Maclennan, chairman and CEO of Cargill. The key to a resilient food supply chain system is access and the ability to keep food moving across borders. And above all, whether dealing with a health crisis or a food safety crisis, consumers must always be front and center, said Natasa Matyasova, head of quality management at Nestle. “In short term, [it’s] first people, then business contingency, and then help the community as needed,” she said.

Recall

Sabra Recalls Hummus After Salmonella Discovered During FDA Routine Screening

By Food Safety Tech Staff
No Comments
Recall

On Monday Sabra Dipping Company, LLC and the FDA announced a voluntary recall of the company’s Classic Hummus due to potential Salmonella contamination. The discovery was made when the FDA conducted a routine screen of one tub. Sabra has recalled about 2100 cases of its 10 oz Classic Hummus (1 SKU), which was produced on February 10 and has a “Best Before” date of April 26. The product was distributed to 16 states, but according to the company announcement posted on FDA’s website, since the hummus is more than halfway through its shelf life, “it’s unlikely you’ll find this product on the shelf.”

Thus far no illnesses have been reported in connection with this recall.

GFSI, The Consumer Goods Forum

Trust, Transparency and Collaboration Are Highlights of 2021 GFSI Conference

By Food Safety Tech Staff
No Comments
GFSI, The Consumer Goods Forum

The second and third days of this year’s virtual 2021 GFSI Conference (see GFSI Day 1 Wrap) took the opportunity to recognize the impact of COVID-19 on the industry but more importantly, addressed the future of providing safe food to a global population. “The COVID-19 pandemic has been an exceptional challenge to public health and food systems and everyone in the world, but it has also been an opportunity to reimagine safer, more resilient and sustainable food systems,” said Naoko Yamamoto, M.D., a physician and epidemiologist at the World Health Organization. “We need to seek more collaborative approaches to be inclusive and innovative when working across sectors to achieve food safety.”

Speakers discussed the importance trust and transparency related to food safety and sustainability. With the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals deadline set at 2030, GFSI developed a new code of ethical conduct in its new Governance rules. “We need strong engagement from the private sector for our agrifood systems to become more efficient, more inclusive, more resilient and more sustainable,” said Qu Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

In addition to networking breaks during the event, concurrent special sessions targeted auditing, chemical hazards, pest management and technology solutions. Day three also featured Ask GFSI sessions, which were conducted in Zoom, and allowed speakers to field questions from the live attendees.

Read GFSI’s full update of Day Two of the conference.

Read GFSI’s full update of Day Three of the conference.

 

GFSI, The Consumer Goods Forum

Day 1 of 2021 GFSI Conference Reflects on Leadership and Resilience

By Food Safety Tech Staff
No Comments
GFSI, The Consumer Goods Forum

The 20th annual GFSI Conference convened yesterday, but instead of bringing together an international group of food industry stakeholders in one central location, the event was held online, streamed throughout offices and homes across the globe.

Day one kicked off with a welcome from Wai-Chan Chan, managing director of The Consumer Goods Forum, Qu Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, who addressed the humanitarian and consumer perspective of food safety. “We need a strong engagement of the private sector for our agrifood systems to become more efficient, more inclusive, more resilient and more sustainable,” Chan stated. The conversation about the global importance of sustainability continued with a conversation led by Erica Sheward, GFSI Director, and Howard Popoola, vice president, corporate food technology and regulatory compliance for The Kroger Company and Roy Kirby, global director, microbiology, food safety and toxicology for Mondelez International. They talked about GFSI’s program, Race to the Top, and the /global Markets Programme capability tool, which was established more than 10 years ago to help companies implement continuous improvement to develop an effective food safety management system, and its potential in developing markets. “Think about what this could do for farmers, think about what it could do for families in Africa, in those places described as countries of opportunity, producing niche products, who just need an opportunity to be able to sell their products into the world stage,” said Popoola, who is also a GFSI steering committee member.

During the course of the day, stakeholders also discussed pandemic-specific issues including supply chain disruptions, and the role of crisis communications and messaging to consumers related to the safety of the food supply.

More exclusive updates will be available from Food Safety Tech. Read GFSI’s full update on Day One of the conference.

HorizonScan, Salmonella

HorizonScan Hazard Challenge: Quiz 8

HorizonScan, Salmonella

So … a guy walks into a bar and says, “What sort of quality and safety issues do I need to worry about in all the beer I’m about to drink?” Will you have the answer?

Hazard Question #8 – What have been the most common safety/quality issues reported in beer over the past 10 years?

Hint: The answer to the guy’s question is NOT “If you drink enough beer you won’t have any more worries.” But it’s super easy to find the correct answers in HorizonScan by whipping out your phone, logging into HorizonScan, doing a search on beer, then entering a 10 year date range in the bar graph summary. You’ll have your answer in less than 30 seconds. Sharing the results may be a great way to get that guy to go somewhere else to drink.

HorizonScan also covers wines, spirits and liquors, etc., plus juices, concentrates, soft drinks, mineral water and a host of other beverages, not to mention the peanuts and pretzels on the bar, all the ingredients in the pizza you just ordered, the greens in your salad, the oils and spices in the dressing … you get the idea.

To request updated pricing information or a free demo of HorizonScan, just reply now to this message and we’ll get back to you with answers to all your questions.

Kind regards,
The HorizonScan Team at FoodChain ID

Figure 1. HorizonScan Overview
Figure 1. HorizonScan Overview

Answer to last week’s Quiz – 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?

For sure, the most alarming occurrences of Salmonella Agona over the past occurred in infant food and formula. But Feedstuff accounted for 97 of the cases reported since 1999, with Poultry meat and products a distant second. The chart below breaks down all 194 reports.

HorizonScan, Salmonella
Figure 2. Salmonella Agona Occurrences since 1999.
Recall

FDA and CDC Investigating Non-Viral Hepatitis Potentially Linked to ‘Real Water’ Brand Alkaline Water

By Food Safety Tech Staff
No Comments
Recall

–UPDATE April 19, 2021 — The FDA continues to investigate reports of acute non-viral hepatitis in Nevada associate with consumption of “Real Water” brand alkaline water. “The FDA has become aware that “Real Water” brand alkaline water is still being offered for sale through online retailers. The agency is working to locate any remaining products to ensure they are no longer available to consumers,” FDA stated in an email update. “The FDA will continue to monitor this situation closely and follow up with retailers as we become aware of recalled products being offered for sale.”

–END UPDATE–

The FDA and CDC are investigating reports of acute non-viral hepatitis in consumers that has a common link to “Real Water” brand alkaline water. The agency is in the beginning stages of the investigation and notes that more products could be connected to the outbreak. The acute non-viral hepatitis cases affected infants and children, resulted in acute liver failure and occurred in November 2020, but FDA was alerted to the cases on March 13, 2021.

The manufacturer, Arizona-based Real Water, Inc., stated that the issue occurred in Las Vegas and is recalling the product. FDA pulled information from the company’s website stating that the five-gallon containers are delivered to homes in Honolulu; Orange County, Ventura and Santa Barbara, California; St. George, Utah; and Tucson, Arizona. The agency also states that Real Water is packaged and sold in various sizes including 1 gallon, 1 liter and 1.5 liter plastic bottles.

FDA is urging consumers, restaurants and retailers against drinking, cooking with, selling or serving the “Real Water” alkaline water until more information is revealed about the illnesses.

USDA Logo

USDA Names Sandra Eskin Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety

By Food Safety Tech Staff
No Comments
USDA Logo

USDA has announced its new Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety, Sandra Eskin, who previously served as the Project Director for Food Safety at The Pew Charitable Trust. Eskin has experience in strategic public policy issues related to consumer protection, food safety, dietary supplement safety, and food and drug labeling and advertising. She has also served as a federal government staff attorney and legislative representative for the Consumer Federation of America as well as the deputy director of the Produce Safety Project.

“Sandra’s deep experience in food safety will strengthen USDA’s dedication to ensuring a safe, secure food supply for consumers and help to protect the safety of federal meat inspectors and workers throughout the food chain,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a USDA press release.

“Eskin will go to the USDA at a particularly challenging time for the agency. The COVID-19 pandemic has widened inequities and worsened nearly every problem with our food supply, and employees at meat processing facilities are some of the hardest hit workers of any industry. Even setting the pandemic aside, the USDA has much more it could be doing to protect Americans from foodborne pathogens, such as the more dangerous strains of Salmonella that contaminate poultry. Eskin, who knows that sound science is key to sound food safety policies, can help steer the ship in the right direction.”  – Peter Lurie, M.D., president of Center for Science in the Public Interest

Steven Sklare, Food Safety Academy

Ask the Expert: Do Electronic Pest Monitoring Systems Meet Third-Party Auditor Requirements for GFSI Certification Programs and Other Standards?

By Steven Sklare
No Comments
Steven Sklare, Food Safety Academy

In a move lauded by the pest management industry, the Safe Quality Food Institute (SQFI) announced toward the end of 2020 that the SQF Code Edition 9 for Food Manufacturing contains specific language endorsing the use of electronic monitoring devices in pest prevention programs. This new edition of SQF’s Code, which will be implemented starting May 2021, will guide participating companies in the implementation of some of the most stringent food safety management practices in the industry.

Specifically, section 11.2.4 of the SQF Code Edition 9, entitled Pest Prevention, details that for a pest prevention program to be effectively implemented, it shall “…Include the identification, location, number, and type of applied pest control/monitoring devices on a site map.” Additionally, the Code spells out numerous expectations for pest control providers, including that they “Provide a pest prevention plan (refer to 2.3.2.8), which includes a site map, indicating the location of bait stations, traps and other applicable pest control/monitoring devices.” SQF’s codification of electronic rodent monitoring systems is an acknowledgement of the important role played by electronic pest monitoring in modern food safety practices.

The American Institute of Baking (AIB) also recognizes electronic rodent monitoring in its food safety certification scheme. Specifically, section 4.11 of the AIB International Consolidated Standards of Inspection notes that rodent monitoring devices should identify and capture rodents that gain access to a facility and includes among the acceptable monitoring options “extended trigger traps that send alert e-mails or text messages.” AIB’s schematic points out that remote monitoring devices may play a particularly relevant role in facilities in countries or regions where the use of mechanical traps is prohibited.

While SQF is the first GFSI Certification Program Owner (CPO) and AIB is the first Certification Body (CB) to formally include electronic rodent monitoring in their protocols, it is only a matter of time before other certification programs, certification bodies and recognized standards such as GMP/HACCP follow suit.

A discussion of electronic pest monitoring and a remote, digital rodent monitoring system, that provides 24/7, real time status alerts, for the food industry, may seem like a big leap forward. However, it was only a short time ago that many in the food industry needed to be convinced that a transition from a manual, pen and paper monitoring system of cold storage temperatures to a fully automated, 24/7 digital monitoring system with real time alerts, was needed. This is an example of technology being used in a meaningful way to eliminate the time-consuming aspect of certain important tasks and allow more time to be devoted to activities that contribute to the process of continuous improvement.

As remote and electronic monitoring systems, such as the Bayer Rodent Monitoring System (RMS), become better known and understood and their important role in elevating IPM programs more obvious, it is becoming clearer that auditing bodies will begin considering the presence of such systems in their evaluation protocols, even if formal changes to various standards lags behind.

If you are in doubt as to whether or not the next auditor, regulatory or non-regulatory, that will walk into your facility understands the role electronic rodent monitoring plays in supporting a robust food safety management program, take the lead on this important issue and raise the subject prior to your next audit.

References

  1. Safe Quality Food Initiative
  2. American Institute of Baking
  3. Bayer Rodent Monitoring System

Related content: Use of Remote Rodent Monitoring with Regard to Food Safety Regulations and Current Pest Control Practices.

Bayer logo Content Sponsored by Bayer Rodent Monitoring System.

 

HorizonScan

HorizonScan Hazard Challenge: Quiz 7

HorizonScan

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.

To request updated pricing information or a free demo of HorizonScan, just reply now to this email and we’ll get back to you shortly and answer all your questions.

Kind regards,
The HorizonScan Team at FoodChain ID

HorizonScan
Figure 1. HorizonScan Overview.

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!

HorizonScan
Figure 2. Issues in Chicken Meat: Past 1, 5 and 20 Years

 

Listeria

Virtual Event Targets Challenges and Best Practices in Listeria Detection, Mitigation and Control

By Food Safety Tech Staff
No Comments
Listeria

Next month, Food Safety Tech will host the first event in its Food Safety Hazards Series, “Listeria Detection, Mitigation, Control & Regulation” on April 15. The virtual event features Sanjay Gummalla, Ph.D., senior vice president of scientific & regulatory affairs at AFFI; April Bishop, senior director of food safety at TreeHouse Foods; and Douglas Marshall, Ph.D., chief scientific officer at Eurofins. These experts will address Listeria from the perspective of food manufacturing and preventing the introduction of the pathogen; risk based and practical approaches to address the presence of Listeria in food production and achieve key publish health goals relative to the pathogen; how to implement a strong Listeria control program; and the testing challenges from a lab perspective.

The event begins at 12 pm ET on Thursday, April 15.

Presentations are as follows:

  • Listeria Control and New Approaches to Addressing Risks, by Sanjay Gummalla
  • Managing Food Safety and Sanitation in the Digital Age, by April Bishop
  • Listeria Testing: Choosing the Right Method and Target, by Doug Marshall

The presentations will be followed by a panel discussion and a live Q&A with attendees.

Register now for the Food Safety Hazards Series: Listeria Detection, Mitigation, Control & Regulation