Following third-party lab testing that revealed a positive E. coli O157:H7 sample, Oregon-based Interstate Meat Dist, Inc. is recalling 28,356 pounds of ground beef products. The products were shipped to retail locations in Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming, according to a USDA FSIS announcement, and have bear establishment number “EST. 965” inside the USDA mark of inspection.
“The issue was reported to FSIS after a retail package of ground beef was purchased and submitted to a third-party laboratory for microbiological analysis and the sample tested positive for E. coli O157:H7. FSIS conducted an assessment of the third-party laboratory’s accreditation and methodologies and determined the results were actionable.” – FSIS, USDA
The USDA posted images of labels and product details related to the Class I recall, which have been distributed to Wal-Mart, WinCo, Kroger and Albertsons.
Beer is one of the world’s oldest beverages, with evidence suggesting production as far back as the Bronze age. While beer is no longer used as renumeration for work as it was in the Mesopotamian Fertile Crescent, it is nevertheless a common pleasure for many people. Craft brewing is a relatively new phenomenon, and quite different from the brewing processes of antiquity. In the United States, immigrants from Germany and Czechia began to experiment with new recipes for craft beer in the 1960s. These recipes, often based on the Bavarian 16th century Reinheitsgebot, or purity laws, ensured that only the purest, highest quality ingredients went in to make beer: Water, barley, hops and yeast.
Since then, there has been a rapid growth in the number of microbreweries that experiment with “new-world” hops and grains to create huge ranges of flavorful beers that go far beyond traditional recipes. This variety in brewing ingredients and approaches has, in part, supported the explosion of a mass market for craft beer. In 2020, the global market value of craft beer was estimated at nearly $165 billion, and is expected to grow to nearly $554 Billion by 2027, with the largest growing markets in countries like China, Japan and the United States. There has also been a shift in which types of beers are consumed, with more premium or specialized craft beers increasing in market share with respect to low-cost mass-production beers.
In such a crowded and dynamic market, beer producers are faced with competitive challenges like never before. Ensuring a consistently high-quality product with a distinctive flavor profile that can be enjoyed time and time again is critical for market success. One of the key challenges standing in the way of achieving this is turbidity, or “haze”, in the end product. Such haze can give an unsightly first impression to consumers, compromise flavor, and negatively impacts shelf stability. In this article we discuss how new, advanced turbidity testing technologies are enabling brewers to quickly and efficiently eliminate haze from their beers, supporting breweries in their goals of delivering great consumer experiences again and again.
Quality over Quantity
With the growing “premiumization” of beers, ever-greater attention and importance is being placed on interesting and consistent flavor profiles. Often, this includes beers made from ingredients far outside the relatively strict Reinheitsgebot recipe, including additions such as coffee, fruit and spices. The emphasis on more complex flavor profiles is pushing beer tasting to be taken as seriously as wine tasting, with perfectly balanced beers often being designed to match certain foods.
However, the addition of these newer ingredients can introduce challenges into the brewing process, especially as they can be sources of turbidity-causing impurities that may affect the quality, flavor and shelf stability of the final product. This is particularly challenging when beer brewing is scaled up to larger manufacturing quotas, where careful control of variables like ingredient choices, recipes and manufacturing methods are critical for ensuring the consistency and quality of the beer from batch to batch.
To meet these needs, modern breweries are increasingly using new and advanced technologies throughout the brewing process to maintain high quality products. Technologies like water purification systems, titrators and portable instruments such as hand-held pH meters and spectrophotometers are all being utilized to improve and refine the manufacturing process. A major focus of this technological drive is in turbidity detection and removal.
What Is Haze, and Where Does It Come From?
Haze is a broad term referring to evenly distributed turbidity—suspended, insoluble material which can appear in the final product. Haze can be divided into several types, most commonly: Chill haze, a temporary haze that disappears when a chilled beer warms to room temperature; and permanent haze, which is present at all temperatures. Haze can also be divided into biological haze (caused by microbiological growth in the beer) and non-biological haze (caused by a wide variety of non-living material, such as peptides, polyphenols and starches).
Since turbidity can be the result of unwanted microbes, wild yeast or protein particles, these deposits, although not unsafe to consume, can significantly alter the flavor profile of the beer, adding unpleasant acidity, sourness, or even “off” flavors. Bacteria are one of the major sources of turbidity in beers, particularly lactic acid-producing bacteria (LAB), such as Lactobacillus. While small amounts of lactic acid can add pleasant, desirable sour flavors in sour beers, the over-presence of these bacteria can be a major cause of contamination, so their levels must be closely monitored in the brewing process. Other bacteria like Pectinatus species can also “infect” beers, causing turbidity as well as “off” aromas and flavors due to the creation of hydrogen sulfide and fatty acids.
Importantly, turbidity-causing compounds can collect in the product from all stages of the brewing process:
This starts with the source of water, and how it is filtered and treated. For example, a high presence of calcium in brewing water can cause precipitation of calcium oxalate.
Mashing, the first stage of the brewing process, produces a malt extract from mixing grains and water. The malt extract is a liquid containing sugar extracted during mashes and has high viscosity and high protein content. At this stage fungi (like Penecillium), wild yeasts (Candida) and bacteria can all enter the mix to cause turbidity later on.
From there, the process of lautering separates the wort from the grain. The wort is then boiled with hops, clarified, then fermented with yeast. The fermentation process is a common step when turbidity-causing bacteria like Lactobacillus and Pediococcus can contaminate the mixture.
The fermented beer product is then stored for anything from three weeks to three months in a storage tank where a second fermentation takes place. Then it is filtered and packaged into barrels, bottles, or cans; all of which are also potential sources of turbidity-causing bacteria like Pectinatus.
The filtration and pasteurization processes are key for removing sources of turbidity. However, these processes do not necessarily remove all sources of turbidity, especially if aspects of the brewing process are altered by external factors (e.g., subtle shifts in the mashing temperatures) and cause a buildup of contaminants that is too great to filter out. Therefore, effectively monitoring and minimizing turbidity throughout the brewing process is critical, allowing brewers to make timely corrective adjustments, reducing a buildup of contaminants in the final product.
Advanced Methods for Turbidity Testing
To support effective haze removal and ensure beer consistency, turbidity measurements must be taken throughout the entire brewing process. Measurements should therefore be quick and efficient, and able to measure large quantities of beer in a short space of time, especially in high-production breweries. As such, advanced on-site turbidity testing technologies that are efficient and easy to use are ideal, and can rapidly streamline quality control in the brewing process. For example, with turbidity meters, breweries can swiftly check that their fining or filtration process is yielding a desired end product, and if an issue arises during the clarification process, an onsite turbidity measurement can pick this up right away for speedy corrective action. Such speedy rectification minimizes the chances of ruined batches and resultant profit loss to the brewery.
Modern turbidity meters work by using an infrared LED light source to measure light scattering in a solution. These handy devices allow brewers to perform rapid testing of beer with simple grab samples, meaning samples can be analyzed without having to disturb the brewing process. The LED light sources used in more advanced meters also have several benefits. For example, the LED does not require a warm-up period like older tungsten lamps, meaning it is ready to use at all times. Secondly, infrared LED light sources prevent color interference, which is especially useful for testing darker beers. Finally, the LED will last the life of the meter and give stable signals, meaning that calibration does not drift. Turbidity meters can also test for chill haze, allowing brewers to check for problems that can cause the beer to turn cloudy during prolonged chilling.
Quality control of the brewing process is crucial for maintaining the quality and consistency of beer products that keep customers returning time and time again to their beers of choice. In a hyper-competitive market, brewers must use all the advantages they can to stay ahead of the game. Hazy beers can be particularly off-putting to customers if they are expecting bright, clear products, and critical qualities like taste and aroma can be very unpleasant if contamination isn’t carefully controlled. Moreover, unwanted turbidity in beers can negatively impact shelf stability, with resultant impact on profitability and brand reputation.
Owing to the complexity of beer making, the sources of turbidity are multiple, meaning that careful testing of turbidity is critical. In helping to overcome these challenges, advanced turbidity meters are enabling brewers to perform efficient and simple measurements on-site throughout the brewing process. This is helping to drive more timely tweaks to the brewing, filtration and storage steps to ensure consistent, high-quality beers with carefully crafted flavor profiles reach the market.
Q: What are the current challenges with media preparation? Tim Cser: Dehydrated culture media has been around since the mid-1800’s. Louis Pasteur is widely credited with creating the first media of yeast, ash, candy sugar and ammonium salts. In fact, Merck/MilliporeSigma has the first patent on culture media in 1885! This same idea has been a backbone of microbiology since its inception. However, getting the culture media into a usable format has always had its challenges. Ubiquitous around the globe, culture media is the simplest, most cost-effective way to grow and study microbes. Some media, like Tryptic Soy Broth (TSB), is already formulated and ready to weigh, mix and autoclave. Other media require raw materials to be mixed together from scratch, requiring quite a bit of time and man hours. Weighing the media requires a calibrated balance, scoops, storage, a mixing hotplate, an autoclave, Erlenmeyer flasks, bottles, etc… a classic media kitchen. In addition, weighing the powder can be a messy process, creating dust inhalation concerns. MilliporeSigma helps solve some of that with our granulated media (think sugar vs flour) that produces at least 70% less dust and is much easier to weigh and pour. Each step requires human interaction from weighing to removing it from the autoclave. Then, once it’s ready to be used, often times it needs to be re-heated to a higher temperature.
Q: How does the ReadyStream system address those challenges? Cser: The ReadyStream® instrument streamlines the media preparation process by eliminating the need for an autoclave, balance, glassware, hotplate, etc. The sterile granulated media comes in a vacuum-sealed, irradiated pouch that gets hydrated and heated at the same time. The ReadyStream® uses sterile, filtered water to rehydrate the media, creating a ready to use broth in about 30 minutes. Once the media is fully dissolved and ready to be dispensed, it can then be ready within minutes over the course of 5 days allowing the lab flexibility with sample preparation. The ReadyStream® impacts the entire media preparation process by eliminating weighing (in a hood), hotplate mixing, autoclaving, cooling, handling hot glass, pre-heating before use, bottle washing and more. The ReadyStream saves the lab significant time and money in addition to power and resources. There is nothing else on the market that creates a pre-heated, sterile medium stored at room temperature, ready to use at a moment’s notice. The ReadyStream® has modernized the media preparation process.
In recent years, plant-based dairy alternatives have stormed supermarket shelves around the world, offering a new generation of consumers alternatives to traditional milk, cheese and butter products. During this webinar, data and results on combined plant milk protein, solid, and sugars will be presented alongside the spectra of the material and the calibration regions chosen. Additionally, experts will compare some plant-specific calibrations to the generic calibration for traditional milk.
An especially perfidious type of edible oil fraud is the dissolution of inedible plastic material, such as polypropylene or polyethylene packaging material, in hot cooking oil during the frying process. This is supposed to prolong the shelf life and the crispness of deep-fried snack food, not surprisingly with serious health implications. Attenuated total reflectance fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (ATR-FTIR) in combination with principal component analysis (PCA) provides a straightforward method to analyze samples directly with minimal preparation, to detect polymers in palm cooking oil, as done in this study.
Balkan countries are enduring their share of adulterated foods. In Kosovo, commercial samples of meat labelled as beef or chicken were investigated with ELISA (enzyme-linked immunoassay test) and PCR (polymerase chain reaction) in order to detect pork mitochondrial DNA. The test series looked into the efficiency and cost of different methods and showed a preference for commercial ELISA combined with real-time PCR. Almost a third of beef was adulterated with pork, as were 8% of the chicken samples.
Precise, accurate contaminant analysis is crucial to ensure that dietary supplements are of high quality and free from potentially harmful chemicals, such as heavy metals or pesticide residues. As supplements become an increasingly prevalent part of global health culture, with their global market forecast to reach a value of more than $230 billion by 2027, there is an urgent need to ensure their safety for consumers—but manufacturers face many challenges in this area.
Assuring that dietary supplements are free of pesticide contamination is especially difficult given their botanical ingredients, which can be more complex than other analytes. A prominent obstacle is matrix interference. As most botanical ingredients exist in the form of concentrated extracts, smaller sample sizes are needed to overcome heavy matrix interference, in turn requiring highly sensitive instrumentation to detect minute amounts of pesticide residues.
With this in mind, we adopted an analytical workflow comprising both gas and liquid chromatography (GC and LC) systems for orthogonal residue analysis. GC-MS/MS can achieve fast, robust separation of ~300 pesticide residues, while LC-MS/MS enables analysis of ~280 residues. The GC and LC instruments are sufficiently sensitive to allow dilution of samples to mitigate matrix interference— essential to determine potentially low residue levels in complex matrices, and ensure dietary supplements can confidently be certified safe.
Clearing Analytical Hurdles
Matrix complexity is only increased by the fact that botanical ingredients are sourced from across the world and, therefore, exposed to many different agricultural practices. As a wide range and great many of these botanical ingredients are used to produce supplements, it is challenging to develop sample preparation procedures that are suitable for all products.
To prevent frequent iterations of analytical procedures, we developed one sample preparation workflow for GC-MS/MS and another for LC-MS/MS. In both, samples are hydrated and extracted (using acetonitrile:water and the salts anhydrous magnesium sulfate and sodium chloride) before cleanup by solid-phase extraction (SPE). For LC, various defined combinations of dispersive SPE analysis are used to accommodate different matrices (pigmented, high-fat or high-protein, for example) before samples are diluted prior to analysis. Doing so allows us to optimize sample preparation for particular groups of botanical matrices and target specific matrix mitigation without needing to change the entire workflow.
In addition to the aforementioned analytical hurdles, some lesser-defined commodities lack maximum residue limits, complicating the interpretation of results and specification of acceptable criteria. To mitigate these difficulties, we opted to streamline our data processing and reporting by implementing integrated chromatography data system software for both LC-MS/MS and GC-MS/MS. This enables on-the-spot evaluation of QC criteria and rapid assessment of component presence (or absence) in data review and facilitates swifter and easier cGMP compliance.
Keeping Supplements Safe
Our chosen analytical approach has created robust, sensitive processes for optimized multi-residue analysis of dietary supplement samples in a regulated QC environment.
With uptake of supplements fast increasing, guaranteeing product safety is more important than ever. Improved pesticide screening, and quality control of food ingredients, holds great value for both individual organizations and the industry as a whole, while—crucially—enabling consumers to rest assured about the safety of the products available to them.
A Northern Ireland-based analytical lab added white pepper to its portfolio of food authenticity tests based on spectroscopy with chemometric analysis. White pepper, the ripe berries of the piper nigrum plant, is undergoing an additional production step, fetches a higher price than black pepper and therefore is a target for fraudsters. Often, bulking substances like skins, flour, husks and spent materials are used, but in some cases of pepper fraud, the substances used were hazardous to human health.
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.
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.
In recent years, foodborne illness has ignited alarming concerns across the globe. Food products can become contaminated with pathogenic bacteria through exposure to inadequate processing controls, animal manure, improper storage or cooking, and cross contamination. The following is a look at some of the pivotal figures that illustrate the effects of food contamination:
Considering the financial aspects, it is essential to note that about $110 billion is lost almost every year in productivity and medical expenses from unsafe food consumption in low-and middle-income economies.
With such daunting numbers taking over the globe, there stands an innate requirement of cost-effective, easy-to-use, and accurate testing methods that ensure the consumer is delivered nothing but the safest food.
Why is pathogen testing necessary? Pathogen testing is generally carried out to decrease and remove foodborne illnesses. It is a technique implemented in the very nascent stage of food production to ensure proper sanitation and food safety. The testing can be done using conventional technologies or the cutting-edge methods, including Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) or an immunoassay test.
PCR technology: An ideal and convenient technology in use for pathogen detection in food industry
PCR is one of the most frequently used technologies. The test enables the detection of a single bacterial pathogen, including E. Coli, Salmonella and Listeria, present in food by detecting a specific target DNA sequence. Aiding to such advantages, various business conglomerates that are involved in the food pathogen testing industry are taking strategic measures to bring forth novel innovations and practices in the space. The following is a brief snapshot of some developments in the PCR based pathogen testing technology landscape:
Sanigen, Ilumina partnership for development of NGS panel
Owing to the escalating demand for PCR testing technology for detecting the presence of food pathogens, South Korea-based Sanigen, recently announced standing as a channel partner in the region for Illumina. Both the companies, in unison, are expected to work towards the development of NGS panels that can robustly detect 16 types of foodborne pathogen from around 400 samples.
Thermo Scientific’s 2020 launch of SureTest PCR Assays
Last year Thermo Scientific expanded its portfolio of foodborne pathogen detection with the launch of the SureTest PCR Assays. The testing technology is poised to offer various food producers an access to a more holistic range of tests for every step of the analysis process.
A look at one sector: How is the expanding dairy sector complementing the growth structure of food pathogen testing market?
The dairy production industry is rapidly expanding in various developing and developed economies, marking a significant contribution to health, environment, nutrition and livelihoods. According to a National Farmers Union report, the U.S. dairy industry accounts for 1% of the GDP, generating an economic impact of $628 billion, as of 2019. However, dairy products, although deemed healthy, can contribute to severe human diseases in umpteen ways, with dairy-borne diseases likely to top the list.
Milk and products extracted from the milk of dairy cows can house a variety of microorganisms, emerging as a source of foodborne pathogens. This has pushed the need for appropriate testing methods and technologies, which can eliminate the presence of dairy-borne bacteria, like Salmonella.
Today, various rapid pathogen testing solutions that are suitable for detecting the presence of distinct bacteria and organisms are available for dairy-based food companies. For instance, PCR-based solutions are available to test for mastitis in dairy, which is a common rudder infection caused by microorganisms in dairy cattle, affecting the quality of milk. Apparently, Thermo Fisher offers VetMAX MastiType qPCR kits for relatively faster, efficient and easier mastitis diagnostics. In fact, the kits are deemed to be reliable tools that would accurately detect all mastitis causing bacteria in frozen, fresh and preserved milk samples.
Consumption of raw or undercooked meat is also expected to generate a significant food pathogen testing kits demand in the coming years. Common contaminants found in these products are E. coli and Salmonella. One of the strains of E. coli, Shiga Toxin-producing E. coli (STEC), is expected to emerge as a fatal contaminant present in the meat products. Consider the following:
WHO reports estimate that up to 10% of patients with STEC infection are vulnerable to developing haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS), with a case-mortality rate ranging from 3 to 5%.
Moreover, it has the ability to cause neurological complication in 25% of HUS patients and chronic renal sequelae, in around 50% of survivors.
Under such circumstances, the demand for pathogen testing in meat products, for detecting E. coli and other contaminants is gradually expanding worldwide. In January this year, PerkinElmer introduced its new tool for detection of E. coli O157 in food products. The kit has been developed for generating rapid results while simultaneously putting them forth to support food safety efforts related to beef and its self-life.
The global food and beverage sector is subject to stringent safety requirements and a considerable part of the responsibility lies with food producers. As such, access to rapid testing technologies will enable the producers to fulfill their safety obligations without compromising on productivity and bottom lines. The consistent development of PCR-based tools will certainly outline the gradual progress of food pathogen testing industry, keeping in mind the high penetration of dairy and processed meat products worldwide.
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