Tag Archives: JIFSAN

Deirdre Schlunegger, Stop Foodborne Illness
Food Safety Culture Club

Sharing Food Safety Stories Around The World

By Deirdre Schlunegger
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Deirdre Schlunegger, Stop Foodborne Illness

Last month, I spoke in Santiago, Chile at the Inofood Conference. I spoke about the impact of foodborne illness in the lives of individuals and families.

I showed photos of little Reese who died two years ago and talked about how Stop Foodborne Illness works with the food industry to drive home the importance of food safety and the consequences of foodborne illness. Together, we work to raise awareness, create and sustain strong food safety cultures and to promote the importance of food safety.

Deirdre Schlunegger will be speaking as part of a panel of experts during the Food Safety: Past, Present & Future Plenary Session during the Food Safety Consortium, November 29th at 4:00pm.

I was in good company with Frank Yiannas as he spoke of food safety culture and his book was even translated into Spanish for this conference. Tim Jackson from Driscoll’s and DeAnn Benesh from 3M addressed technical issues related to food safety and many others spoke. Food Safety representatives from Chile and around the globe were very interested and are dedicated to the topic and practice.

I am proud that we are among the nonprofit, behavioral and scientific experts and making a difference as food safety culture, tools, data and interventions improve. I have already been contacted to see if the video, which I showed in Spanish, can be used throughout Chile in the coming months.

Just a few days following his conference, I was in Greenbelt Maryland attending the JIFSAN (Joint Institute of Food Safety and Nutrition) Conference and Advisory meeting as I serve on the Advisory Council. The topic was Risk Analysis Tools and Data and it was a fascinating two days. Again, professionals who teach and share food safety knowledge around the world gathered to share vision, tools and practices.

The 5th Annual Food Safety Consortium conference will take place November 28 through December 1st and we will be there! We continue to see a strong drive and desire to improve food safety and we need to continue to press until the estimated number of people who die each year from foodborne illness diminishes significantly from 3,000 towards zero. No one should die from nourishing their body with food.

I am ending this blog with the powerful story of Aly: http://www.stopfoodborneillness.org/stories/aly/

Janie Dubois, Ph.D., Laboratory Manager, Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (JIFSAN)
In the Food Lab

Capacity Building in Food Safety

By Janie Dubois, Ph.D.
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Janie Dubois, Ph.D., Laboratory Manager, Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (JIFSAN)
I’ll start this with a blunt and age-revealing truth: This is my first blog. This means I am more than happy to receive your “constructive advice” and suggestions for topics. This blog will appear monthly and focus on capacity building in food safety.
 
I would like to start by explaining what I do and through the months, introduce a number of initiatives and organizations involved in this field. The thing about food safety is that we all want it and there is a willingness to improve it; however, this objective can always benefit from more engagement and better knowledge of the tools that exist.
 
So back to me… I manage the International Food Safety Training Laboratory (IFSTL), a public-private partnership between the University of Maryland and the Waters Corporation. The Lab is the latest program at Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (JIFSAN), which itself is a public-academic partnership between the University and the U.S. FDA. Why so complicated, you might wonder, because it takes a village… Put simply, what we do is deliver courses on laboratory methods fit for the purpose of demonstrating the safety of food. Why the village? Because one important reason for testing is to meet regulatory requirements put in place to ensure the health of populations and enforced through trade channels. We are lucky enough to be able to involve the regulators in the US (i.e. FDA, USDA and EPA) to explain why the rules are there, why some methods fit the purpose and others don’t, but also we ask them to explain what the health and economic consequences of failures to deliver safe food are. Then we needed teachers for hands-on laboratory work, and we needed some resources to make it happen. As I said, it takes a village.
 
The IFSTL is a resource for technical assistance and training identified in the FDA’s International Food Safety Capacity-Building Plan published in February 2013. Goal 4 of the Plan specifically addresses technical assistance and objective 4.4 further defines the vision for multilateral acceptance of fit-for-purpose laboratory methods. Personal experience has taught us that some laboratory analysts embrace the flexibility brought about by requiring methods to be equivalent instead of a rigid imposition of pre-defined methods, but others would rather simply be told what to do. The flexibility allows each laboratory to apply the methods that best fit their situation in terms of access to trained staff, to instrumentation, to test kits and to financial resources, while still fitting the purpose of the measurement. There are usually quite a few recommended validated methods and good reasons to select any of them. So for that topic only, there are lots of questions requiring not only technical expertise on instrumentation, but also on the requirements of the regulatory system and, let’s face it, tricks of the trade.
 
The selection of courses we offer is guided by input from FDA foreign posts informing us of needs observed in their region. The need may arise from a new regulatory requirement, from a change in agricultural production and exports or simply because training is not available in the region. We also receive input from the industry, primarily but not exclusively from members of the JIFSAN Advisory Council. Finally, we also receive requests from other countries either through technical assistance activities or directly from analysists. Generally, we prepare courses that are open to the public (of laboratory analysts) from the US and foreign countries for registration, and these courses always benefit from a heavy involvement from the U.S. regulatory agencies. In some cases, we develop and deliver private courses for industry that include aspects of their own laboratory quality control systems. In a nutshell, that’s what we do at the IFSTL.
 
In the coming months, I will talk about a number of initiative in food safety capacity building and I hope that it will encourage us to continue to work together to achieve the goal of providing safe food to the world.