Many of us who have worked in food safety for years understand how Listeria monocytogenes can become harbored in food processing environments, and particularly in freezers. That is why the large recall of frozen vegetables initiated on April 23, 2016 wasn’t a huge surprise to many. After all, we had been seeing frozen vegetable recalls in the recent months preceding this recall. What was a surprise to me was the outbreak linked to these products. Sadly, at the time of this writing there are 8 cases in 2 states resulting in 2 deaths.
Its surprising to me because 1. the pathogen doesn’t grow at freezing temperatures and 2. frozen vegetables are traditionally heated sufficiently to destroy Listeria monocytogenes prior to consumption. Thus, the number of cells you would expect in contaminated product should easily be destroyed by proper preparation. So, besides the enhanced epidemiology and molecular techniques being currently employed to identify sporadic outbreaks, what else has changed? Are people juicing with these frozen veges? This is a new expectation in food safety management.
It is time that we have a national discussion about sustainability and food safety.
If you manufacture food or beverage products, you may find that you need an expert to review the formula, the process, and the package and ensure that the product will meet food safety and quality requirements. This person should have relevant education and training as well as experience. Here are ten things to look for before you hire them as your Process Authority.
Of course, the Process Authority should know what are the potential risks and how to control them. Having an education in food science and technology is key.
2. Knowledge of Food Processing and Packaging
The Process Authority should know of the time-tested and the novel methods to process and package foods and beverages safely.
3. Knowledge of the Regulations
Federal and state regulations must be adhered to. If you are dealing with state inspection, the Process Authority should be able to understand any nuances you are facing and design a process accordingly.
4. Industry Experience
Ivory Tower pronouncements aren’t that helpful to you. You need to get your product through this hurdle and into market so (more…)
We have a baby in the house. He’s only a few months old. Needless to say, my wife and I are sleep-deprived and feeling the effects. Sometimes when we find ourselves passing through the kitchen, we’ll stop and “graze” on whatever happens to be on the counter, or in the pantry, or in the refrigerator. We do this knowing that we’ll be needed in short order for rocking, feeding, or diaper changing. This sort of eating doesn’t always bode well for the diet, but we’re in survival mode so our priorities are a little out of whack.
The other night I was looking for something to graze on in the fridge and noticed that my wife had purchased a container of Nestle Toll House raw cookie dough. Of course, my mind immediately went to the E. coli O157:H7 outbreak from 2009, in which a similar product was a vehicle of 72 illnesses (more…)