Tag Archives: quality

Seafood Analytics CQR

Handheld Reader Detects Freshness of Seafood

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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Seafood Analytics CQR
Seafood Analytics CQR
The CQR device from Seafood Analytics measures the freshness and quality of seafood.

How fresh is “fresh”? This is a question that is asked throughout the supply chain as it pertains to seafood. Determining the quality and freshness of seafood has long been an issue in the industry. A handheld screening and data collection device developed by Seafood Analytics uses electrical currents to generate the cellular quality of seafood products.

The CQR device measures how much the cells inside a fish species change over time. Real-time measurements can be taken in different conditions, from catch to freezing, or from catch to consumption. The device can be used throughout the supply chain, including by grocery chains, foodservice distributors, and harvesters and processors. By enabling users to evaluate the quality and freshness of seafood, the CQR device also helps reduce shrink loss, manage inventory, determine inbound supplier selection and set pricing based on quality.

A food company’s supply chain can be the weakest link in their food safety program.  Learn more about how to protect your supply chain at the Food Safety Supply Chain conference | June 5–6, 2017 | Rockville, MDSeafood Analytics is currently developing a Certified Quality Seafood certification that would allow suppliers to promote their seafood. Seafood buyers would be able to locate suppliers that sell high quality seafood that has been measured by the CQR device, and seafood sellers would be able to certify their products through this certification program.

Elise Forward, Forward Food Solutions
FST Soapbox

How to Build, Change and Mold Food Safety Culture

By Elise Forward
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Elise Forward, Forward Food Solutions

Food safety and quality professionals are change agents and problem solvers. It is what we do. The manner in which people within an organization respond to change, problems and opportunities for improvement is a reflection of the food safety culture of the organization. Does your organization celebrate when someone correctly decides to shut production down or put a product on hold? Obviously, it is always best to prevent any issues before they arise, but stopping a line to prevent bad product from being produced or catching out-of-specification product before it leaves the facility is better than continuing to produce and ship bad product. These events are often viewed as negative occurrences, and, therefore, many do not see the value of the Food Safety/Quality Assurance department.

Elise Forward will be speaking at the 2016 Food Safety Consortium, December 6–7 in Schuamburg, IL | LEARN MOREHow can we change this viewpoint and positively affect the food safety and quality culture of the organization? A few key factors have a great impact on the culture of an organization. People, systems, access to resources and opportunities for growth are all integral pieces of a stellar food safety culture. In this column, the first of a two-part series, we will explore how people build, change and mold the culture.

First and foremost, people are the number one asset and provide the greatest impact to change. Not only are personnel the eyes and ears of an organization, but they also provide the logic required to make good decisions. Computer technology is amazing, but it cannot fully replace the human ability to process the information. People need to be used to their fullest potential in order to obtain the greatest impact. The following are some ways people can be used to boost the food safety culture of an organization.

Everyone is involved in food safety. A team is always stronger than individuals. Everyone, from the C-suite to the third-shift person in charge of the employee refrigerator and taking out the trash, to the office staff that answers the phones and opens the mail, needs to have responsibility for food safety. In addition, contractors and subcontractors are not immune to providing a significant role in protecting the food safety of your product. All relevant staff must have the appropriate training to understand that what they do affects the food safety of the product as well as the entire facility. Having everyone trained means that many then share the food safety mentality and, therefore, there are stopgaps in the system. As with many issues, it is not one breakdown of the system that leads to a failure but a culmination of many breakdowns. People are still the strongest asset to food safety, so having multiple stopgaps (i.e., people), involved in protecting the process will help ensure that the product remains safe.

Executive responsibility. The responsibility of the overall food safety of products leaving the facility now lies with the executives, as seen by the recent cases involving Peanut Corporation of America, DeCosters and Jensen brothers. Executives and decision makers are accountable for the presence of or lack of appropriate food safety measures. Therefore, when making changes, executives need to understand that these are personal decisions that could affect themselves and their family, in addition to customer confidence as well as profits and losses. Questions such as, “What happens if their name is plastered on the evening news?” and “How will your customers, investors, consumers react if the company has a problem?” should be asked.

Evaluate any decision for food safety consequences. Food safety and quality is directly related to profits and losses. Any issue or change that arises must be evaluated to determine if there are any impacts to food safety. For example, the purchasing department must understand that the items purchased and used on the production floor impact food safety. Therefore, food safety should be on every agenda and part of every decision. This can be as simple as adding to the bottom of every agenda the question, “Is there any way that food safety will be impacted?” The C-suite members should be included in management meetings where additional food safety discussions occur.

Employee trust. Employees must be trusted to keep the product safe in order to safeguard the business and the products. It is human nature to take pride in the work that we are assigned and to strive for excellence. People feel rewarded when they are trusted and will continue to add value to the organization by striving for continuous improvement. This translates to greater attention to food safety and quality.

If an employee cannot be trusted, this person should not be on the payroll. The Food Defense rules specifically require a company to address intentional adulteration from an internal entity. To ensure quality, background checks should be completed on every employee, contractor or sub-contractor who has access to critical areas of the facility.

Food safety should be in every job description. Food safety is everyone’s job, so update job descriptions to include pertinent responsibilities to food safety. At a minimum, everyone should have the “See something, say something” responsibility in his or her job description, in addition to anything specifically related to his or her job. Likewise, it can be valuable to have an independent set of eyes to evaluate a system. Therefore, train and use all personnel that do not have a background in food safety and quality. Departments such as accounting, warehouse, maintenance and personnel should be trained to perform GMP and sanitation audits. Spread these tasks around and your systems will benefit. The people performing the tasks will take pride at being trusted with these important responsibilities and tasks.

While a company or organization may start in an undesirable situation, it is possible to change the environment. Remember, the people you work with are your greatest asset. Value these people; uplift, teach and coach them in the ways of food safety and quality. Your efforts will produce astounding results! In the second half of the discussion on food safety culture, we will discuss other facets that influence food safety culture.

Risk, food safety

Seven Threats to the Food Supply Chain

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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Risk, food safety

Food businesses face a range of risks, from lack of consumer confidence to supply chain security. As FSMA regulations and issues such as climate change rise to the top of the list of priorities of global governments and regulators, food companies need to secure the reins on their businesses to ensure they can face these seven emerging risks in 2016 and beyond.

SevenEmergingRisks_FoodSupply
Infographic courtesy of EtQ, Inc.

 

Camila Gadotti, 3M
In the Food Lab

Examining the Role of Food Safety During R&D

By Camila Gadotti, M.S.
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Camila Gadotti, 3M

Research and development (R&D) is an essential starting point toward the creation or modification of new and exciting food products, processes and packaging. To ensure that a product is safe for consumption, food safety should be considered during the initial stages of a product’s lifecycle. Incorporating food safety into R&D can be tricky, as safety considerations may change the initial idea or concept of a new food product. For example, the idea of a freshly squeezed orange juice in every supermarket shelf is appealing; however, without pasteurization, that juice will not be safe for consumption, nor will it have the desired shelf life. Adding raw chopped garlic to a hummus product makes it taste great, but will it be safe for consumption after being on the shelf for a month?

To better understand how safety of new products is assured from concept to launch, I spoke with two R&D scientists about food safety considerations during new product development. The interviewees, Maria and Laura, work for the same large food manufacturer, which is located in the Midwest, in the snack foods and breakfast cereals categories, respectively. They both confirm that the R&D team follows a specific procedure during the product concept phase—one that places food safety at the forefront. The team starts by determining how the new product compares to food safety regimens already in place with other products that the company manufactures. If the product is a line extension with only a few changes to an existing formulation, the food safety concerns are likely to be low, and the food safety program already in place is adapted to meet the safety needs of the new product. However, if the product being developed is highly differentiated from other products manufactured by the company, food safety moves into a more central role throughout the development cycle.

According to Maria and Laura, the first step in ensuring food safety for a new product is for the development scientists to have in-depth discussions about the product’s formulation, ingredients and supply sources. These three aspects, along with the planned manufacturing process, are then evaluated through a hazard assessment. The hazard assessment is comprised of microbiological, quality, regulatory, stability and physical hazard assessments. Ingredients that pose food safety concerns without prior controls and process conditions are identified. The quality team determines controls for these ingredients and subsequently involves process engineers to verify that process conditions are attainable and will provide proper control for the hazards identified. A complete HAACP plan is put in place for the new product production, taking into consideration equipment cleanability and location, traffic control for ingredients and operators, and air handling systems. The hazard assessment is documented in detail and must be approved by the quality manager before production runs can begin and development can resume. Although the entire process is led by R&D, multiple other functions are involved and consulted throughout the process.

Manufacturing processes, formulation and market availability of ingredients drive the food safety of a new product, with manufacturing processes and formulation usually being the key drivers. “However, in cases like the recent shortage of eggs due to the avian flu crisis, finding substitutions for ingredients in shortage becomes an important driver for food safety,” says Maria. Laura says that at times, product formulations can change due the integrity of the ingredient or its source. In such cases, a similar ingredient from a credible source is chosen and the safety of the product is re-assessed. There are critical quality and food safety elements that must be considered in the product design phase to prevent issues later in development. When R&D professionals keep these elements top-of-mind when considering formulation and ingredient sourcing, everyone benefits—from the company to consumers.

Although consumer confidence in the safety of the U.S. food supply is slipping (11% said they were “very confident” in the safety of the food supply, down from 15% in 2013; 50% said they were “somewhat confident”, down from 55% in 2013, according to the International Food Information Council’s 2015 Food and Health Survey), the interview with Maria and Laura shows that manufacturers are putting significant effort into developing safe food products. It is equally as important for suppliers and vendors to have robust food safety programs to build strong relationships with manufacturers. Food companies have a lot to lose if a product they develop is, or becomes, unsafe for consumption. Not only can the average cost of a recall add up to $10 million in direct costs to a food company, lost sales and the impact to the company’s market value, brand reputation, and business relationships is major. Some companies never recover from the punch. Through taking the time to audit suppliers, screen new ingredients, and make robust prototypes, food companies can be more confident in the safety of their innovative new products as they go through the development process.

Melanie J Neumann is Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for The Acheson Group
Beltway Beat

From Beijing to Baltimore Integration and Collaboration a Common Theme

By Melanie J. Neumann
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Melanie J Neumann is Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for The Acheson Group

At the recent Food Safety Summit in Baltimore, the focus was on building an Integrated Food Safety System (IFSS) to aid in implementing FSMA and continued progress along the path of prevention vs. reaction, while at the International Forum on Food Safety (IFoFS) in Beijing, speakers emphasized colla boration for more effective and accurate communication of food safety risks.

In China, the media often over reports on food safety scandals that are actually food quality issues. Consumers are led to believe that food safety is a widespread problem across China and thus have developed a dis trust in the local food industry. At the heart of the matter is multi-stakeholder risk communication. The media is not solely to blame for this problem. Industry and regulators must be more proactive in communicating the true nature of food-related incidents in a way that is more accessible to consumers and the media.

The entrenched culture and government supremacy of China also contributes to the problem. The food industry typically does not communicate openly about food safety risks once the government has spoken out. However, at IFoFS, openness was a key focus, and I think we are at pivotal turning point. Chinese and other Asian companies, along with the Chinese FDA, have begun discussing the criticality and need for risk communication as it relates to food safety and food quality as a means to protect both consumers and food brands. One significant challenge involves instances in which errors in judgment are not quickly admitted when a regulator positions an incident as one of food safety when soon after it’s realized it is a quality issue. It’s safe to assume that regulators may not take the initiative to openly admit the misclassification, and speaking out against these issues may be perceived as openly challenging the government.

I also see the same phenomenon happening in the United States, but the over-reporting, is more so connected to the lawsuits against FDA and topical focus by consumer activist groups. For example, certain activist groups are over-amplifying the purported risks of GMOs, and we’re seeing over-reporting of the pressure and lawsuits against FDA related to FSMA deadlines. Similar to China, these issues are not food “safety” issues per se, but the media’s coverage exacerbates consumer misunderstanding and feeds a belief of widespread adverse food safety issues.

At the Food Safety Summit there was more focus on the integration and collaboration of federal, state, local, and regulatory bodies to implement FSMA. Michael Taylor, FDA’s Deputy Commissioner of Foods said that the publication of the final rules will meet the court-mandated deadlines, beginning in August. He added that there is an existing, established network between these groups, but FSMA elevates this association to a new level, because Congress has mandated it. The discussion of interaction and integration raised a question during a Town Hall on “integrating” the federal food agencies into a single agency. The general answer: If we were starting from scratch, we probably wouldn’t create separate agencies, but given that there are two today, there are more effective ways of integration versus completely disrupting the system to create a single-agency. (Sorry David—we know how much you would like a single food agency!)

The common thread? The U.S. and China are calling for increased relationship building and trust between all stakeholders. This common thread sews these two conferences, countries, and the global community together. But the question remains, with the media, consumers, regulators and industry seemingly still at odds with each other in both countries, how do we make this happen?