Tag Archives: pathogen detection

Food Fraud

Fertilizer-Tainted Sugar, Formalin-Drenched Chicken Guts Top Fake Foods List

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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Food Fraud

–Update– 4/1/2016 16:40 pm–

This article was part of our April Fool’s special edition. While the information about the Interpol seizure is indeed factual, we made up the new detection method (EFAS). 35% of poll participants were correct in guessing that this was the article that contained false information.

This week Interpol-Europol announced its largest-ever seizure of fake foods and beverages across 57 countries over a four-month time period. In total, Operation Opson V seized 10,000 tones and 1 million liters of food products between November 2015 and February 2016, with the following topping the list:

  • Fertilizer-contaminated sugar from Khartoum, Sudan (nearly 9 tons)
  • Olives painted with copper sulphate solutions to enhance color (85+ tons)

“Today’s rising food prices and the global nature of the food chain offer the opportunity for criminals to sell counterfeit and substandard food in a multi-billion criminal industry which can pose serious potential health risks to unsuspecting customers. The complexity and scale of this fraud means cooperation needs to happen across borders with a multi-agency approach,” said Chris Vansteenkiste, cluster manager of the Intellectual Property Crime Team at Europol in an agency release.

Other seized products worthy of note include:

  • Chicken intestines preserved in formalin from Indonesia (70 kg)
  • Monkey meat from Belgium
  • Locusts (11 kg) and caterpillars (20 kg) from France
  • Fake whiskey from Zambia (1300 bottles)
  • Tilapia unfit for human consumption imported to Togo (24 tons)
  • Honey from Australia  (450 kg)

And for the false information:

At a recent conference for food laboratory professionals, Gavin Rosenberg, Ph.D., discussed an emerging analytical method that could be game changing in detecting adulterated products in the field. Using electrostatic fluorescence absorbance spectroscopy (EFAS), Rosenberg’s lab has been able to probe the chemical composition of products, from liquids to bulk and high-moisture foods, while simultaneously assessing concentration in products such as meat and even spices. The rapid and portable method is also highly sensitive and can provide trace detection of pathogens, dyes, antibiotics and pesticides within 60 seconds.

“While still in the research stage, EFAS has been utilized in several studies and has successfully been shown to detect contaminants as well as ingredients that are frequently added to adulterate food products,” said Rosenberg.  He indicated that his team will pursue initial applications of the product to identify adulteration of olive oil (nearly 70% of olive oil is adulterated or diluted) and ground beef, specifically in the European and Asian markets.

DuPont, Listeria

PCR Assay Detects Listeria in Dairy, Produce, RTE Products

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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DuPont, Listeria
DuPont, Listeria
DuPont BAX System X5 PCR Assay for Genus Listeria

The AOAC Research Institute approved a method extension of Performance Test Method #030502 to include the DuPont BAX System X5 PCR Assay for Genus Listeria. The assay has been validated as a reliable method for detecting the pathogen in frankfurters, smoked salmon, spinach, and cheese, as well as from environmental surfaces. Using the system, automated PCR-based DNA amplification and automatic pathogen detection can be conducted on 32 samples simultaneously within a smaller and more lightweight unit. The system is also validated by AOAC-RI for detecting Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes in good and environmental samples.  

Gina Kramer
Food Safety Think Tank

Listeria, the Pesky Bug is Everywhere!

By Gina R. Nicholson-Kramer
Gina Kramer

“When a flower doesn’t bloom you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.”  A quote, by Alexander Den Heijer, trainer, speaker, purposologist, that rings true in food safety. When there is a contamination issue in food processing, one must fix the environment in which food is being processed. Safe food is a product of a clean environment.

We have better environmental sampling programs in our food manufacturing plants and processing facilities, and we have sanitation standard operating procedures, so why are we seeing a prevalence of Listeria, and in rising numbers?  I recently sat down with Jeff Mitchell, vice president of food safety at Chemstar, about the recent increase in Listeria outbreaks and how you can rid your facility of the dangerous pathogen.

We’re seeing Listeria—in product recalls and outbreaks—over the last couple of years, and in multiple numbers. Why do you think this is happening?

Jeff Mitchell, Gina Kramer, Listeria
My interview with Jeff Mitchell about the increase in Listeria recalls.  Watch the video

Jeff Mitchell: The distribution of Listeria in the environment has not changed, and the processes that we use for processing food really haven’t changed. What’s changed is the way that we collect data. We have PulseNet now, which gathers information. If someone goes to a medical treatment facility with a foodborne illness, they’re going to investigate that and they’re going to get the whole genome sequencing on the pathogen.

There’s a difference between understanding what transient Listeria is and resident Listeria. I think there are a lot of sanitation efforts being put forth to eliminate the resident populations—those are the populations we’re most concerned about, and they’re the ones that are being related back to a lot of these recalls.

If I have resident Listeria in my facility, why can’t I find it?

Food Safety Tech is organizing a Listeria Detection & Control Workshop, May 31 – June 1, 2016 in St. Paul, MN. LEARN MOREMitchell: Resident populations of Listeria are found in a biofilm—most bacteria aggregate within a biofilm. A biofilm is a survival mode for the bacteria; it protects it from sanitizer penetration. That layer actually masks it from sampling. You could swab a surface or an area and not pick it up, because the biofilm is masking it.

Jeff goes on to discuss the type of sanitation program that companies should have in place to get rid of resident Listeria. You can learn about the steps you need to take in my video interview.


USDA Poultry Standards Could Reduce Illnesses by 50,000 Annually

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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The USDA has finalized federal standards to lower the incidence of Salmonella and Campylobacter in ground chicken and poultry (including raw chicken breasts, legs and wings, which comprise about 80% of the chicken that American’s purchase). FSIS updated its microbial testing schedule at poultry facilities and will also start posting food safety performance about companies online.

“This approach to poultry inspection is based on science, supported by strong data, and will truly improve public health,” said USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Al Almanza in an agency press release. “The new performance standards will complement the many other proactive, prevention-based food policies that we’ve put in place in recent years to make America’s supply of meat and poultry safer to eat.”

Intended to achieve at least a 30% reduction in Salmonella illnesses, a pathogen reduction performance standard for chicken parts, ground chicken and ground turkey is being finalized by FSIS. It is doing the same to achieve a 32% reduction in illnesses from Campylobacter in chicken parts and ground chicken. FSIS estimates a low prevalence of Campylobacter in ground turkey and is thus aiming for a 19% reduction.

“Over the past seven years, USDA has put in place tighter and more strategic food safety measures than ever before for meat and poultry products. We have made strides in modernizing every aspect of food safety inspection, from company record keeping, to labeling requirements, to the way we perform testing in our labs,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in the release. “These new standards, in combination with greater transparency about poultry companies’ food safety performance and better testing procedures, will help prevent tens of thousands of foodborne illnesses every year, reaching our Healthy People 2020 goals.”

Jeff Mitchell, Gina Kramer, Listeria

The Increase in Listeria Recalls and What You Can Do About It

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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Jeff Mitchell, Gina Kramer, Listeria

Why has the food industry been seeing more Listeria outbreaks in recent years? What is the reason behind it? According to Jeff Mitchell, vice president of food safety at Chemstar, the prevalence in Listeria-related recalls may have more to do with the fact that industry is collecting more meaningful data. During a Q&A with Gina Kramer, founder and executive director of Savour Food Safety International, Inc., Mitchell discusses the methods through which industry is collecting data and how food companies should be using a sanitation program to rid facilities of resident Listeria at the 2015 Food Safety Consortium.


Fast Facts About Listeria

By Maria Fontanazza
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Attend the Listeria Detection & Control Workshop, May 31–June 1 in St. Paul, MN | LEARN MOREAccording to the CDC’s Foodborne Outbreak Online Database (FOOD Tool), there were 29 Listeria outbreaks between 2010 and 2014, resulting in 325 illnesses and 68 deaths (nearly a 21% fatality rate). In light of the recent reports that the U.S. Department of Justice is looking into Blue Bell Creameries following the Listeria outbreak in its facilities that killed three people, food companies need to have a strong mitigation and control program before it’s too late. The government is placing is a higher level of accountability on employees at all levels within food organizations and no one, including company executives, are immune to it.

“It’s extremely important that we understand how deadly Listeria is,” said Gina Nicholson-Kramer, founder and executive director at Savour Food Safety International, Inc. during a Listeria workshop at the 2015 Food Safety Consortium. “We’re put here to protect our consumer.”

Containing what may be growing (and rapidly spreading) within the nooks and crannies of a facility is a challenge. To learn more about how to prevent product contamination within all areas of food production, read the column by Nicholson-Kramer and Jeff Mitchell, vice president of food safety at Chemstar, Activate Your Listeria Mitigation and Control Program.

 Fast Listeria Facts

Types of Infections

Non-invasive gastroenteritis: Self-limiting, diarrhea, fever, fatigue

Invasive gastroenteritis: Headache, stiff neck, loss of balance

At-Risk Populations

Pregnant women, neonates, elderly, immune-compromised

Where It’s Found

Soil, water, silage, manure, sewage, processing plants

How It Spreads in Facilities

Foot traffic, wheels, forklifts, pallets, boxes, bins

Average Fatality Rate

Up to 25%

Other Traits

Psychrophilic bacteria (grows well in cold temperatures)

Adheres to surfaces and creates biofilms on equipment that is difficult to remove (Preventing transient Listeria from becoming resident Listeria is critical)


Food Safety Testing Market to Hit $6.4 Billion by 2020

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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As a result of the rising incidence of food contamination and foodborne illness outbreaks such as Listeria, Salmonella and E.coli, the North American market for food safety testing is expected to hit $6.4 billion within the next four years. According to a recent report by Markets and Markets, the 7.4% compound annual growth rate will also be fueled by the following factors:

  • Actions taken by food manufacturers to implement more testing at different stages of the chain in order to strengthen food safety standards
  • Increased concern to reduce the amount of product recalls
  • Increased consumer interest in ingredients and food safety
  • FSMA and the regulatory effort to reduce the presence of pathogens or contaminants in food

Learn more about how food laboratories are working to detect dangerous pathogens.

The Markets and Markets report:“North American Food Safety Market by Contaminant , Technology, Food Tested (Meat & Poultry, Dairy, Fruit & Vegetable, Processed Food), & by Country – Trend & Forecast to 2020″

Update: (1/14/2016): According to a report released by Research and Markets on January 14, the global food safety testing market can expect to achieve a 7.1% CAGR over the next five years, hitting $16.2 billion by 2020.

USDA Issues Best Practices for Minimizing Salmonella and Campylobacter in Poultry

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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As part of a federal goal to achieve a 25% reduction in Salmonella illnesses related to meat and poultry products by 2020, USDA’s FSIS has revised and published guidelines for poultry processors. The document, “FSIS Compliance Guideline for Controlling Salmonella and Campylobacter in Raw Poultry”, intends to provide best practices based on scientific and practical considerations for minimizing pathogen levels and meeting FSIS food safety requirements.

The guidance recommends preventive measures that poultry companies can make in the following areas:

  • Pre-harvest (on the farm)
  • Sanitary dressing procedures
  • Further processing practices
  • Antimicrobial interventions
  • Management practices

FSIS is also seeking comment on the fourth edition of the updated document.

There has been little change in the number of confirmed Salmonella cases, which sicken more than 1 million people annually in the United States. The guidance is part of FSIS’ Salmonella Action Plan, which was announced in December 2013.

DuPont BAX System, Salmonella detection

PCR Assay for Salmonella Detection Gets AOAC-RI Certified

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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DuPont BAX System, Salmonella detection
DuPont BAX System, Salmonella detection
DuPont BAX System X5 PCR Assay for Salmonella detection

Today DuPont announced that the AOAC Research Institute (AOAC-RI) approved a method extension of Performance Tested Method #100201 to include the company’s BAX System X5 PCR Assay for Salmonella detection. Introduced this past July, the PCR assay provides next-day results for most sample types following a standard enrichment protocol and approximately 3.5 hours of automated processing. The lightweight system is smaller and designed to provide more flexibility in testing.

“Many customers rely on AOAC-RI and other third-party certifications as evidence that a pathogen detection method meets a well-defined set of accuracy and sensitivity requirements,” says Morgan Wallace, DuPont Nutrition & Health senior microbiologist and validations leader for diagnostics, in a company release. “Adopting a test method that has received these certifications allows them to use the method right away, minimizing a laboratory’s requirements for expensive, time-consuming in-house validation procedures before they can begin product testing.”

The validation covers a range of food types, including meat, poultry, dairy, fruits, vegetables, bakery products, pet food and environmental samples.

Chipotle to Adopt “Highest Level of Safety” Following E. Coli Outbreak

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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After bringing in IEH Laboratories and Consulting Group to reevaluate its practices after an E.coli outbreak that sickened dozens, Chipotle Mexican Grill announced it is implementing a program to ensure it achieves “the highest level of safety possible”. According to a press release issued today, Chipotle is enhancing its food safety program and taking the following actions:

  • Conducting high-resolution DNA-based testing of all fresh produce prior to shipment to restaurants
  • Conducting end-of-shelf-life testing of ingredient samples to ensure quality specifications are maintained throughout ingredient shelf life
  • Engaging in continuous improvements throughout its supply chain leveraging test result data to measure its vendor and supplier performance
  • Improving internal employee training related to food safety and food handling

The CDC and FDA investigation of the E. coli outbreak is ongoing and the source of the outbreak is still unknown.