In the February/March issue of Food Safety Magazine, our cover story explores the envisioned future of auditing, considering the changing needs, expectations, and technological developments of the profession. Additional features discuss the regulatory changes inspired by the 1993 Jack in the Box E. coli outbreak and its impact on the foodservice industry, reducing food safety risks associated with meal kits, and pre-harvest strategies for reducing the presence of pathogens in red meat. Access the full issue here!
Food safety auditing has progressed a great deal in the last three decades, but it is clear that it has yet to keep up with changing needs, expectations, and technological developments. This article explores the envisioned future of auditing, including how to develop talent and retain auditors, the qualities of a successful auditor, the importance of calibration among auditing teams, developments in technology and tools for auditors, and changes in processes with certification bodies, among other aspects.
This article looks back at the events of the 1993 E. coli outbreak associated with hamburgers served at Jack in the Box restaurants along the U.S. West Coast, examining the regulatory changes inspired by the fatal outbreak and its impact. Also discussed are the corporate and industry changes, spearheaded by Dr. David Theno, that set new standards for leadership and management in foodservice and food safety.
Meal kits use a direct-to-consumer model of delivering perishable, pre-measured ingredients for pre-selected recipes that are then used to prepare and cook meals at home. Meal kits are likely to contain a variety of foods that may grow or be contaminated by pathogenic bacteria. Meal kit manufacturers also often repackage ingredients into plain or branded packaging, which can result in the consumption of unexpected ingredients or allergens.
In this article, the authors discuss the mechanisms by which food safety can be improved on the farm, along with some of the treatments that are effective today and likely will be available in the near future.
Proving food safety is a monumental challenge, if not an impossibility. However, with the appropriate tools and techniques one can confirm, with a high degree of statistical confidence, the effectiveness of a preventive control for reducing a specified hazard to an acceptable level or concentration that is consistent with achieving public health objectives.
This article presents the key findings of outbreak investigations from 2014–2021 that have been linked to the consumption of fresh, soft queso fresco-type cheeses in the U.S. The authors outline some of the specific circumstances that small manufacturers of all cheeses may encounter in an effort to provide lessons learned and highlight available resources.
Risk-based approaches for food allergens offer a path forward for both allergen management and precautionary allergen labeling decision-making. After many years of research, a clearer picture has emerged of the population-level, threshold-dose distributions for major food allergens using data generated in double-blind, placebo-controlled food challenge studies. If the food allergen management field is headed for a shift toward quantitative, risk-based management strategies, however, then several method considerations and important data gaps must be addressed.
Innovative packaging technologies that contribute to food safety include, but are not limited to, antimicrobial packaging, controlled-release packaging, nanotechnology, and biosensors. These technologies can aid in the control of not only spoilage microorganisms, which make the food product undesirable (but not necessarily unsafe), but also pathogenic organisms, which can cause illness and even death in humans. In the current economy, it may be difficult to make the decision to transition from a traditional packaging solution to an alternative; however, when product food safety is jeopardized and consumers are at potential risk, the food industry must do everything it can to prevent adverse scenarios.
In November, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released its new Food Traceability Rule. The rule will apply to companies that manufacture, process, pack, or hold food on FDA's Food Traceability List (FTL), but the rule will have a wide-reaching impact on processors and suppliers that work with other foods, too. We surveyed and interviewed food processors in the U.S./Canada and around the world to get their thoughts on this new rule and how it will impact their businesses.
An increasingly critical element of food safety and defense planning is assurance of data integrity—the ability to keep data unchanged as it is communicated or stored. Information that is used for decision-making or reporting cannot be compromised, altered, or manipulated by unauthorized users. Threat information is best shared through the establishment and voluntary participation of an Information Sharing and Analysis Center (ISAC). Food and agriculture is the only sector that lacks an ISAC. With security threats against the sector increasing and cyber threats against the global supply system also on the rise, it is imperative that a food and agriculture ISAC be formed.
Prevention is a key focus in alleviating food fraud. In the food supply chain specifically, the lack of understanding and awareness regarding food fraud facilitators provides numerous opportunities for fraudsters to engage in criminal behavior. This article introduces the problem of food document fraud and the role documents play in facilitating food fraud events. Topics covered include crime prevention theory, food fraud prevention, food fraud facilitators, types and classifications of documents targeted in fraud, a food document fraud survey, and how food document fraud fits into a food fraud vulnerability assessment.
Small food manufacturers, defined as those with less than 500 full-time employees, have experienced significant challenges to operate and supply food during the COVID-19 pandemic. To better support small manufacturers in Georgia, the University of Georgia Marine Extension and the Georgia Sea Grant conducted free, onsite COVID-19 assessments at seven seafood processing/distributing facilities through the first five months of 2021. Completed assessment reports and recommendations are summarized in this article. Manufacturers demonstrated remarkable adaptability to protect workers and avoid closing, despite supply shortages and continually changing public health guidance.