Air and water monitoring involves the monitoring and testing of air and water quality in the processing line of a facility. Test results help determine if acceptable standards are being met for a range of parameters that influence food safety and quality.
Allergen testing seeks to determine the presence of foods or food residues that are classified as allergens in foods or beverages that are not labeled as containing those foods. Class 1 allergens, which encompass the Big 9, are of the greatest concern in allergen testing.
Environmental testing involves the microbiological sampling of food contact surfaces or nearby areas to test for the presence of pathogens or indicator organisms. An environmental monitoring program (EMP) includes pathogen swabbing to detect risk in the sanitary conditions of the processing environment and is a verification of the effectiveness of pathogen controls in place at a facility.
Microbiological testing seeks to identify the presence of bacterial pathogens, viruses, and parasites on food contact surfaces, in agricultural water and soil, and in food products. Frequent swabbing to determine if pathogens are present on food processing equipment is an important part of a sound environmental monitoring program (EMP) at a facility.
Sampling programs for food examine a certain portion or product units of a particular lot of the same food as a representative of the quality and safety of the food. Sample prep for laboratory testing involves the preparation of samples for testing.
Using whole genome sequencing (WGS), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were able to link a persistent, drug-resistant strain of Escherichia coli O157:H7 to multiple sources for various foodborne illness outbreaks.
Researchers have introduced a novel, thermal biosensor for real-time detection of Escherichia coli,demonstrating its ability to detect the pathogen in milk without sample preparation. The sensor would be easy to mass produce, and shows potential as a low-cost, rapid tool for onsite microbial indication.
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.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is planning to hold a workshop for government officials from low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) to learn about whole genome sequencing (WGS). Individuals interested in participating are invited to apply.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CIFA) recently provided insight into how whole genome sequencing (WGS) and international data-sharing helped trace a 2020 multinational food safety outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes to enoki mushrooms, enabling countries to rapidly recall the affected products.
A pervasive trend exists to take larger and more frequent samples to address microbial contamination. This trend has touched almonds and is expected to hit other nut products, which can be considered for aggregated sampling as a solution.