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
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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
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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

Figure 1. HorizonScan Overview

HorizonScan Hazard Challenge: Quiz 6

Figure 1. HorizonScan Overview

Last week’s quiz looked at eggs. This week we move up the food chain to look at chickens, more specifically, chicken meat. It’s probably no surprise that the number one issue reported in chicken meat is Salmonella, just as it normally is with eggs. That’s true whether we are looking at a 15 year chart in HorizonScan or a one-year chart. However, if you’re wondering what the second most commonly reported hazard is for chicken meat the answer will depend on what time span you are considering. This week’s quiz requires three answers.

Hazard Question #6 – 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?

Hint: One is a chemical issue, the other two are microbes. If you had access to HorizonScan you could find all three answer in about 30 seconds by doing a search on chicken meat, entering one of the date ranges in question and then viewing the resulting bar chart. Repeat for each time span and you’ll have all the answers!

FSMA states that your food safety program “must consider known or reasonably foreseeable biological, chemical and physical hazards” in your supply chain. To do that effectively it’s not enough to know that a certain issue posed a safety risk ten or even five years ago: you need to have visibility into what’s happening in the present-day supply chain. Historical data can be very valuable, but it can also be out of date. To manage supply chain risks effectively and efficiently you need to have maximum visibility into the full hazard history of a food substance, right up to the present day. Only HorizonScan provides that level of visibility.

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

Figure 1. HorizonScan Overview
Figure 1. HorizonScan Overview

Answer to last week’s Quiz – Historically, Salmonella has been the most frequently reported issue in eggs, but from July through November 2017 another issue dominated the industry and triggered massive recalls, especially in Europe. What was it?

The big story in eggs in 2017 was the presence of the insecticide Fipronil, particularly in eggs from Europe. Fipronil is banned in the EU so the industry was taken by surprise when it was first detected and reported by authorities in Belgium. The problem was initially traced back to production facilities in Germany, then the Netherlands, and subsequently to other major egg producing countries in the EU such as Poland and Italy. It seems that many of these facilities were using an insecticide which, unbeknownst to them, contained the illegal substance Fipronil. The ripple effect of this outbreak was global. Not only were millions of eggs recalled but so were many egg-containing products such as mayonnaise and salad dressings. HorizonScan subscribers were able to track this issue day by day, as well as identify which suppliers were at fault. The HorizonScan table below shows a few of the 120+ reports that were issued during this time.

Fipronil in Eggs
Figure 2. Fipronil in Eggs
GFSI, The Consumer Goods Forum

Reset, Rethink, Recharge: First Virtual GFSI Conference to Address Urgent Topics in Food Safety

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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GFSI, The Consumer Goods Forum

This year’s GFSI Conference will take place March 23–25 and bring together experts, decision makers and innovators in the food industry. With the theme of “rethink, reset, recharge”, the three-day virtual program includes online networking features to allow attendees to connect with professionals across the globe, and sessions that explore COVID-19; supply chain disruption and public health; building consumer trust and transparency; sharing best practices; and technologies shaping the future of food safety.

“Collaboration to ensure safe food for consumers everywhere and sustainable food systems has never been more critical – and this event provides a major opportunity to learn from an unprecedented period and move forwards in the best possible way. We’re excited by the chance to help colleagues across the industry build on the ingenuity, resilience and dedication shown by the food industry over the past 12 months,” said Erica Sheward, director of GFSI, in a press release. “With the conference taking place virtually for the first time, it’s easier than ever before for food industry professionals to get involved—and we’re urging people from all corners of the globe to ensure they’re part of this unique and collaborative forum. Food safety is everyone’s business, and we must continue to work together to build consumers’ trust in the food they buy.”

More information about the GFSI conference, along with registration, agenda and partner details, can be found on the event website.

GFSI is a partner organization for the 2021 Food Safety Consortium Virtual Conference Series.

FDA

FDA Issues Letter to Industry Addressing Efforts to Reduce Chemical Hazards in Foods for Babies and Young Children

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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FDA

A report released last month by the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy revealed dangerous levels of toxic heavy metals in baby food. It stirred up quite a bit of controversy and concern, and raised questions over whether baby food manufacturers were hiding dangerous levels of toxic heavy metals in food, and whether FDA was doing enough to ensure the safety of food.

In an effort to assure the public that FDA is taking the issue seriously, the agency published a constituent update about its actions to further prevent or reduce toxic elements in foods for babies and young children. It also issued a letter to manufacturers and processors of baby and toddler foods as a reminder of the “responsibility under the rulemaking to consider chemical hazards that may be present in foods when conducting your hazard analysis,” which is part of the preventive control provisions of the Current Good Manufacturing Practice, Hazard Analysis, and Risk-based Preventive Controls for Human Food FSMA rule.

“FDA takes exposure to toxic elements in the food supply extremely seriously, especially when it comes to protecting the health and safety of the youngest and most vulnerable in the population. Toxic elements, such as arsenic and lead, are present in the environment and may enter the food supply through soil, water, or air,” stated CFSAN Director Susan Mayne in the letter. “Our goal is to reduce exposure to toxic elements in foods to the greatest extent feasible and to further advance progress in this area through more research and enhanced collaboration among stakeholders.”

The agency also stated that it is finalizing a plan to reduce levels of toxic elements in baby foods, including:

  • “Reviewing current action levels, as well as developing additional action levels, to help make food safer, including finalizing the arsenic in apple juice draft guidance and publishing a draft guidance with action levels for lead in juices.

  • Focused compliance and enforcement activities, including inspections.

  • Providing guidance to industry on how to meet their obligations under current regulations.”

The agency will also continue its surveillance sampling assignment that focuses on these products.

Figure 1. HorizonScan Overview

HorizonScan Hazard Challenge: Quiz 5

Figure 1. HorizonScan Overview

We may never know which came first, the chicken or the egg, but we’re going to look at both of them over the next two weeks. At the risk of inciting a philosophical debate, we are choosing to start with eggs. Did you know that production of eggs has more than doubled since 1990, with nearly 1.4 Trillion eggs being produced in 2018? That equates to over 175 eggs per human being per year. A problem in eggs could impact a lot of people!

Hazard Question #5 – Historically, Salmonella has been the most frequently reported issue in eggs, but from July through November 2017 another issue dominated the industry and triggered massive recalls, especially in Europe. What was it?

Hint: If you had access to HorizonScan you could find the answer in a matter of seconds by doing a search on eggs, entering the date range described above in the chart filter, then clicking on the #1 issue shown in the resulting bar chart. We’ll show you what that looks like next week when we provide the answer.

The good news is that according to HorizonScan, no inspection agency in the world has reported a recurrence of this issue since March of 2018, which suggests that even though it was pretty catastrophic when it happened back in 2017, it’s probably no longer an issue that you need to spend a lot of money and resources controlling. That’s the beauty of having access to the accurate data contained in HorizonScan: you can efficiently target your budget to focus on the issues that are genuine threats to the supply chain right now, and not waste your resources controlling issues that may no longer pose a significant threat, or being unaware of new issues that do.

To request updated pricing information or a free demo of HorizonScan, just reply now to this message and we’ll get back to you shortly and answer 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 – What are the most commonly reported hazards in Cashews, Macadamias and Pine Nuts?

While Aflatoxins are far and away the most commonly reported hazard in tree nuts as a group, Salmonella has historically been the most commonly reported issue for these three nuts. (See HorizonScan summary charts below.) The good news is that unlike Aflatoxins, Salmonella can easily be mitigated with a process control such as a thermal kill step.

Hazards in Cashews, Macadamian Nuts
Figure 2. Most commonly reported Hazards in Cashews, Macadamias and Pine Nuts
Kathy Wybourn, DNV-GL

Ask the Expert: Track and Trace–FDA FSMA Proposed Rule for Food Traceability

Kathy Wybourn, DNV-GL

Does the proposed rule apply to importers?

Kathleen Wybourn: Yes. The proposed rule will apply to all persons, who manufacture, process, pack, or hold foods on the FTL (foods on the Food Traceability List), which does include food importers, who engage in such activities. However, persons, who do not physically possess food, are not engaged in “holding” of food within the meaning of the proposed rule. This means that some persons, who import food, may not be subject to the rule, because they do not “hold” the food. As an example, a person, who coordinates the import of a listed food, but never takes physical possession of the food, would not be subject to the rule; while a person, who imports a listed food, and they physically possess it, would be subject to the rule, unless an exemption is applied.

Does the “one step forward and one step back” meet the requirements of the FDA FSMA Proposed Rule for Food Traceability?

Wybourn: No. The nearly 20-year-old requirement for tracing will not meet the new requirements of the new rule. The FDA’s proposed rule requires food and beverage companies to include the following records: a) companies should maintain a list that includes the description of all FTL foods shipped, along with a traceability product identifier; b) companies should also have a description of traceability reference records, and how different information is linked, such as purchase orders and bills of lading; c) companies must also develop traceability lot codes that identify the types of food at any point, when it is originated, created, or transformed.

Kathy Wybourn, DNV-GL
Kathy Wybourn, director of food & beverage, USA & Canada at DNV-GL

About Kathleen Wybourn, Director Food Safety, DNV GL North America

Kathleen began her career in food manufacturing at the NutraSweet Division of GD Searle/Monsanto where she held various managerial positions including managing analytical and microbiology labs, quality control, quality assurance, supplier audits and operations. Since leaving food manufacturing, Kathleen has worked in various food safety auditing management positions, including Director of Operations at the GMA as Director of the GMA SAFE program.

In 2008 Kathleen joined DNV as Director of Food Safety Solutions where she is responsible for the Food and Beverage division of DNV GL – Business Assurance. Kathleen has written articles on Food Safety Certification including: First Look: GFSI Adds New FSSC 22000 Standard, WAL-MART’s Magna Carta for Auditing, and Navigating the Jungle of Food Safety Standards – all published in various Food industry magazines. Kathleen was instrumental in the study conducted at Michigan State University on Food Safety Certification in the US titled “Food Safety in the U.S. Supply Chain – Consumer and Food Industry Perceptions.” Kathleen is very active with GFSI, having served on various Technical working groups and speaking at the GFSI Global Conferences.

Kathleen has a Bachelor of Science Degree from Northern Illinois University and an MBA from Loyola University of Chicago.

Content Sponsored by DNV.

HorizonScan

HorizonScan Hazard Challenge: Quiz 4

HorizonScan

No matter what your dietary preferences are – Vegan or Paleo on the one hand, or Snickers and Baby Ruth bars on the other – you’ve gotta love those nuts! Unfortunately, some of us are allergic to them. The presence of undeclared nuts in food products is a commonly reported issue in HorizonScan. But even for those who aren’t allergic to nuts, there are still plenty of things to worry about. The most commonly reported risk in both tree and ground nuts is excess levels of Aflatoxins, which can be very dangerous and health-threatening. But there are exceptions to this, and these are the subject of today’s quiz.

Hazard Question #4 – What are the most commonly reported hazards in Cashews, Macadamias and Pine Nuts?

Hint: It’s the same for all three, but it’s not Aflatoxins. And if you had HorizonScan you could know the answers in less than ten seconds each by simply entering each nut in the search tool, clicking a button and then viewing the hazard summary chart that pops up on the results page.

When it comes to analyzing hazards in nuts (or any food group) it’s not the case that “one size fits all.” Sometimes similar food products are susceptible to unique biological, chemical, or physical threats that need to be considered as part of your raw materials risk assessment. Stop wasting your time trying to identify supply chain hazards with Google searches or clunky government databases. With HorizonScan, all this information is right at your fingertips. It’s totally nuts how simple it is!

To request updated pricing information or a free demo, 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

Figure 1. HorizonScan Overview
Figure 1. HorizonScan Overview

Answer to last week’s Quiz – Which food category has had the most fraud incident reports over the past 20 years?

Most fraud is economically motivated so It should come as no surprise that Spices have historically been a favorite target of fraudsters since their high prices can make it quite lucrative to add a cheap filler or substitute a similar but inferior substance. Sometimes the impact of food fraud goes beyond pure economics and becomes a safety issue, too, as was the case in 2015 when ground up peanuts and shells were discovered in ground cumin, triggering a nationwide recall in the USA.

HorizonScan
Figure 2. Fraud Incident Reports by Category
2021 Food Safety Consortium

FDA to Take Questions in Advance of 2021 Food Safety Consortium

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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2021 Food Safety Consortium

This year’s Food Safety Consortium Virtual Conference Series kicks off on Thursday, May 6 with a keynote presentation from Frank Yiannas, FDA deputy commissioner for food policy and response. This year we are extending the Q&A period with Yiannas to 30 minutes, and we are providing attendees the opportunity to bring their questions to the top of the list by filling out the below form. We had a lot of questions during last year’s FDA Town Hall, and we’d love to be able to get to more of them this year.

The Spring Program will run every Thursday in May, with each episode starting at 12 pm ET. The weekly episodes will tackle a range of critical topics in foods safety, including FSMA and traceability, food protection strategies, COVID-19’s lasting impact on the food industry by segment, audits and supply chain management. Registration is open now.

Create your own user feedback survey

 

About the Food Safety Consortium Conference

The Food Safety Consortium is an educational and networking event for Food Protection that has food safety, food integrity and food defense as the foundation of the educational content of the program. With a unique focus on science, technology and compliance, the “Consortium” enables attendees to engage in sessions that are critical for advancing careers and organizations alike. Over the past 9 years the Food Safety Consortium has built a reputation for delivering the most knowledgeable and influential perspectives in food safety. The speaker line-up has driven key food safety decision-makers to the event (both in-person and virtually)—facilitating an environment for vendors, suppliers, food industry professionals, and consultants to network and build long-lasting business relationships.

Due to COVID-19, the 2020 Food Safety Consortium was converted to a virtual conference series that featured specific topics in a weekly episode series. The 2021 Food Safety Consortium Virtual Conference Series will feature a Spring and Fall program, running in May and October, respectively.