“Risk” is a word that’s used pretty frequently in the world of food safety. For manufacturers, it’s a word of caution, one that often engenders fear. Why? Because the greater your food safety risk, the higher your probability of experiencing production-halting, brand-damaging and even job-defining repercussions.
Food Safety Magazine just released its annual article tallying the previous year’s food-related recalls announced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. 2018’s count amounted to 382 food product recalls, including some products that were recalled more than once. From undeclared allergens to bacterial contamination and more, last year saw a seemingly continuous stream of supply chain hazards that resulted in foodborne illness outbreaks, voluntary company recalls and the FDA’s first-ever mandatory food recall. What do these numbers reveal about the efficacy of the industry’s food safety programs? And what risk-prone mistakes might your company be making right now?
Use this checklist to help avoid Tens of Millions in damage costs, severe brand equity loss, and unexpected food audits.
Over the last four decades, food safety has been covered by 30 federal laws and 15 federal agencies. Now these agencies are asking for better funding to protect food safety programs within the U.S. using the latest technology. In a step forward, former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has requested more funding in the 2020 budget to employ technologies such as DNA sequencing for food products and increase personnel by the thousands.
When you think about the food safety requirements that manufacturers must meet to stay compliant with government regulations, your thoughts may go directly to the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and the newest FDA rollouts of prevention-based mandates. You’d certainly be focusing your attention on the right concerns. But if you apply a broader perspective in the arena of FDA, USDA and CFIA regulations, you’ll find that most of the food safety requirements your organization is obligated to fulfill are grounded in the time-tested principles of HACCP. Ultimately, having a food safety program that’s based on the HACCP approach is fundamental to reducing risk, improving food quality and protecting profitability.
Like many aspects of food safety, the details surrounding compliance with industry regulations are complex. In efforts to protect consumers, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) has mandated prevention-based protocol for all sectors of the food industry, including produce farms. In fact, the Produce Rule presents its own nuances and requirements for which farms must be especially prepared. To help you grasp the ins and outs of the Final Rule on Produce Safety and develop a stronger understanding of your obligations, we’re providing a breakdown of important information.
In the world of food manufacturing, food safety isn’t just another category of responsibility; it’s a fundamental mindset. Driven by the critical nature of compliance and the high stakes associated with experiencing a single food safety incident, manufacturers are becoming increasingly motivated to embrace this mindset and adopt smart technology solutions that support it fully. As you look to identify and integrate software that addresses complex food safety needs, do you have a clear understanding of what types of features offer the greatest potential for success?
As both consumers and the food industry are well-aware, 2018 was a year of national food recalls, which was further compounded by the strain on the FDA during the partial government shutdown. Not only did this lead to consumers becoming more aware of where their produce is being sourced, but it also caused many grocers and food producers to reassess their own supply chain and food safety standards.
As advancing technologies continue to innovate the food safety industry, they enable manufacturers to achieve clearer visibility into critical areas and implement compliant food safety plans that help reduce risk. Every data point you collect presents an opportunity for valuable analytics that support a dynamic approach to contamination and recall prevention. Food safety data and analytics can reveal a great deal of useful information IF you understand how to leverage them effectively.
Test data is one of your greatest assets for ensuring food safety standards, which makes it integral to maintaining an effective, compliant food safety plan. Even if you’re collecting, managing and leveraging your food test data, however, you could be overlooking a critical piece of the puzzle: your testing environment. After all, having accurate test data relies not only on the validity of specific test samples, but also on the quality of the testing environment.
As we settle into the new year, we find ourselves thinking about what’s to come in the food safety arena. 2018 saw some high-profile food recalls, including the nationwide warning about romaine lettuce just days before Thanksgiving. While the industry responds to threats like these, many manufacturers speculate about what they can expect food safety program requirements to look like in 2019 and beyond. Here, we’re offering some expert insight to help you get clarity on the subject and prepare your company for the most imminent movements in food safety.
Today the FDA declared that the latest Romaine Outbreak investigation has concluded and published its findings in the: “Investigation Summary: Factors Potentially Contributing to the Contamination of Romaine Lettuce Implicated in the Fall 2018 Multi-State Outbreak of E. coli O157:H7”. I want to join the chorus of many food safety professionals commending Commissioner Gottlieb and Deputy Commissioner Yiannas for their diligent efforts to conclude this investigation during a time period that included the most recent government shutdown! The tl;dr (“too long - didn’t read” for those that don’t know all my abbreviations yet) from the statement is the focus on the root cause of the systems failure. I copy the relevant section in here (emphasis my own) because the explanation is well structured and highlights an important point I want to focus on: prevention.
Dairy farming as an industry has evolved over time as consumer needs, regulatory requirements and operational factors have shifted. In response to this progression has been the advancement of technology to fulfill emerging needs. Today, there is an abundance of technology solutions available to fill this space, and the market will only become more saturated over time. As a result, dairy producers are challenged to identify the most valuable options for their operations.
As with most sectors of the food and beverage industry, the ways in which consumers perceive and purchase meat products has changed over the last several decades. From more informed food safety concerns to a greater emphasis on healthy eating, the overall shift in public mindset has challenged meat processing companies to focus on meeting new demands. As the industry evolves, it is imperative for meat processors to avoid stagnation. Emerging issues require innovative approaches. As most companies in this field understand, however, developing effective strategies to address modern needs can become overwhelming and complex.
We recently posted about the FDA warning letter sent to a Kellogg’s cereal manufacturer earlier this year, which occurred after positive Salmonella samples from the production facility were repeatedly ignored. This corrective action failure caused an outbreak of foodborne illness in 36 states, plus reputational damage to the brand and noncompliance action from the FDA. The manufacturer is now subject to a wide-scale food safety overhaul, which will incur mounting costs for completing a full review of the facility, the implementation of changes to hygienic zoning and traffic control programs, an updated environmental monitoring program, the re-engineering of certain equipment to improve sanitary design, and enhanced training and auditing to ensure that programs are implemented as written. This is a prime example of what can happen when there’s not a robust and fully compliant corrective action plan in place – as well as an urgent reminder to reassess your own efforts. Are you implementing a corrective action plan that meets current compliance obligations, focuses on the safety of consumers and safeguards your brand?
Decades ago, the only food safety risk players in the protein industry were highly concerned about was that of animal diseases pervading their stock. Today, however, companies in the business of producing, processing, distributing and/or preparing meat, poultry and other protein products must be highly vigilant over the threat of foodborne illness caused by pathogens and other contamination issues. Facing this significantly more complex challenge – particularly in light of current industry regulations – has made the development of strong corrective action plans supported by smart software solutions an absolute necessity.
It’s now widely known that the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) requires all applicable facilities to implement comprehensive corrective actions as part of a compliant food safety effort. What many corporate food safety managers may not know, however, is that developing a robust corrective action plan is about more than simply checking off your compliance boxes. Doing so actually strengthens your ability to reduce risk and protect your assets. For an inside look at how this unfolds, we’re bringing life to the practice of corrective action by offering you some tangible examples.
In the food manufacturing industry, corrective actions are steps taken to identify, correct and prevent future occurrences of deviations from a facility’s predetermined food safety process. The fifth principle of the industry standardized HACCP system is to establish corrective actions for responding appropriately whenever a potential food safety hazard’s critical limit is exceeded. Each facility’s corrective action plan should detail what to do when a deviation occurs (i.e., identifying and correcting the cause), who is responsible for doing so and how to properly record the actions taken.
As a food safety manager, you probably worry about what does and doesn’t go on when you’re not around. That’s because there’s more on the line than just business output and operations. If the entire plant structure – from your people to your processes – is not focused on meeting food safety regulations and consumer standards, you’re vulnerable to experiencing serious noncompliance penalties, costly recalls, and reputational risk. But if you assume that ERP software is the answer, keep reading.
A Kellogg’s cereal manufacturer was recently issued an official FDA Warning Letter, which cites a number of food safety infractions linked to consumer illnesses reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Kerry, Inc., the company that manufactures Honey Smacks, underwent an inspection at its Gridley, IL, facility after an outbreak of connected Salmonella infections spurred a voluntary product recall from Kellogg Co. As a result of the inspection, FDA investigators identified “serious violations of the Current Good Manufacturing Practice, Hazard Analysis, and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food regulation.”
Grocery stores have transformed the food consumption experience. Whereas shoppers were once singularly focused on traversing the aisles to find the best deal on breakfast cereal, dinner ingredients and other food staples, there is now ample opportunity to meet with friends, purchase and enjoy a full meal AND check out with essential grocery items, all in one stop. But has this emerging trend increased your risk of food safety failures?
We’ve said it before: No food production process is perfect. There are immeasurable opportunities for the safety and quality of your product to be endangered at just one processing facility, let alone multiple. And as much as we’d like to think that good intentions prevail, there’s simply no way to thwart every single one of these risks. Even so, there’s good news for you and your company: Recalls can STILL be prevented!
Now that the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is fully embedded in the food processing and manufacturing industry, every food brand is called to elevate its approach to food safety and transform reactive efforts into proactive plans. But if FSMA compliance has you struggling to understand and implement the proper regulations within your operation, you probably have some important questions about what’s required of you.
As a producer of food products, you understand that food quality and safety data is both critical and sensitive. But what some manufacturers often lose sight of is the fact that it’s also owned by YOU. This may sound patently obvious, but it is virtually certain that you as an organization are not EMPOWERED to access, aggregate, analyze and act on YOUR data! Try this thought experiment: how long would it take to get an answer to the question “what is my incidence rate of positives trended against 1st-clear sanitation performance for the past 9 business days?” I guarantee you you’ll find your data is walled off from easy access while surrounded by a digital moat. There are historical reasons that organizations such as 3rd party service labs provide your data in very specific formats (Certificates of Analysis etc…): it is both necessary for some aspects of your business to have these forms of output, and they are legally required if for example a lab is ISO certified. All that is well and good, but does NOT solve for the problem of enabling you to mine ALL of your own data in order to take action to improve the safety and quality of your product! Whether you rely on an internal lab team or outsource to various other testing partners, it’s necessary to maintain control over all of your food safety and quality data. Ask yourself: Do you have comprehensive access to your historical data? And if your company changed lab service partners, would you still be able to access and leverage it? It’s time to educate yourself on the importance of breaking down silos, digital and analog. Here’s what you need to know.
Compliance is a hot topic in today’s food industry, as consumers push brands to demonstrate social responsibility and government agencies dig deeper into food safety realities. Companies all along the supply chain feel the pressure to ensure high-quality, compliant processes. In the C-Suite, executives are working to oversee these efforts and fulfill your organization’s compliance obligations. But have you taken the time to determine whether you truly understand your risk position in relation to compliance?
Food recalls happen much more often than the public typically realizes. However, when national attention spotlights a company recall, it has the potential to cause irreparable damage to the brand and even initiate liability consequences for decision makers. As consumers become more informed about food safety issues and government agencies tighten their regulations, the number of recalls occurring across the country continues to increase.
In the wake of a food recall, brand image is on your mind -- and you may be frantically searching for solutions to keep that image intact. A recall is alarming to your customers, and it has the potential to jeopardize their trust in your brand. Just know that you CAN recover from a food recall event and maintain a positive relationship with the public. The key is smart, effective communication.
Food safety reform is sweeping the nation as the FDA enforces its most extensive regulatory shift yet. While manufacturers and suppliers across a spectrum of food categories work to align their operations with these new mandates, players in the meat industry may not be perking their ears on this particular matter. After all, meat and poultry have historically been controlled by the USDA, not the FDA. Even if you’re complying with USDA standards, however, it’s important to pay attention to what’s going on with regard to FSMA, for a number of reasons.
A quick scan of recall listings on either the FDA or USDA site reveals a host of food safety incidents that have affected brands in just the last few days. Pull up an extensive review of food recalls in the past several months or years, and you’ll see some staggering numbers. In fact, a recent report issued by the Economic Research Service indicates there were 4,900 food recall events in the United States from 2004 to 2013. That translates to roughly 490 recalls per year -- or 1.3 recalls every day.
A dynamic and thorough HACCP program is absolutely critical to minimizing your manufacturing company’s food safety risk. Yet, even in this time of unprecedented industry evolution and deepened regulatory responsibility, there are many plants that continue to miss the mark on meeting necessary HACCP standards. To help ensure that your company is implementing a strong HACCP system, we’re providing you with valuable information and insight into one of the most overlooked and underestimated principles.
Many of us can honestly say there are aspects of our jobs that feel like a never-ending cycle. For plant and quality assurance managers in the food industry, the responsibility of preparing for audits really is an endless challenge. The perpetual need to ensure audit readiness can seem relentless and burdensome. The reality, however, is that food safety can be managed in a highly systematic way -- one that equips you and your team to embrace the kind of audit preparation that doesn’t spur an incessant loop of tedious tasks.
If the heightened threat of experiencing a food recall has been on your mind, you’re not alone. Professionals in the food industry at large have been transforming their mindset in response to consumer and government demands for a more rigorous food safety effort. Every brand is under scrutiny from the public, as well as the watchful eye of the FDA, to ensure that today’s food safety standards are being upheld. It’s time to take action on executing a FSMA-compliant plan to meet evolved regulations and protect your brand against the risks of a food recall.
There’s no way around food safety audits for manufacturing companies. Government regulators, like the FDA, USDA and CFIA, continue to heighten compliance enforcement, and clients often conduct regular investigations to manage supplier food safety. On top of that, there are internal audits to be implemented on a consistent basis. That amounts to quite a mountain of audit preparation, which means complex data acquisition and reporting.
There’s a consumer-driven movement happening in the food industry, and it’s impacting the products you bring to market. As people become more informed about health and nutritional realities, interest in eating “clean” foods and maintaining organic diets has surged. In fact, statistics show that worldwide sales of organic food has risen 500% in the 21st century (from $18 billion in 2000 to $90 billion in 2016). In response, farmers are changing the way they grow and manage their crops. So, what does this shift mean for your plant’s approach to food safety and recall prevention?
In the food manufacturing world, plant and quality assurance managers are no stranger to the struggles of overworked employees, strained resources, interruptive audits, tracking snafus and testing pressures. You’re tasked with managing multiple systems at once because each one focuses on a different manufacturing need, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. But you don’t have to keep spinning your wheels to stay on top of critical quality and safety issues or mitigate the risk of a costly recall.
Where would your brand be without the loyalty and trust of its consumers? A company that suffers from diminished consumer confidence is a company at risk of failure -- or, at the very least, significant loss. Therefore, protecting your brand image is of the utmost importance, though this can be a major challenge in today’s food industry climate. As federal regulations evolve, consumers become more informed and the number of food safety incidents climbs, there’s one undeniable truth at the core of protecting your brand: You must adopt a preventive approach.
It happened: Your company experienced a food recall that impacted your business, your brand and your bottom line. You were faced with the costly consequences of manufacturing a product that had to be pulled from the market, including the backlash of negative press and the expense of recall implementation. Whether you’ve fully recovered or are still in the process of recouping your losses, the fact remains that your organization is on high alert to ensure you don’t suffer a reoccurence. Do you know what steps are required to prevent another food recall from happening?
You see the news headlines declaring recalls at restaurant chains, supermarkets, meat and produce companies, ready-to-eat product manufacturers and other types of food processors. You see consumers responding on social media and in their individual buying habits. You know that government regulations have been elevating food safety standards to a whole new level. And you worry about how these industry realities will affect your brand.
Regardless of whether a food recall happens through government mandate or voluntary action, there’s much at stake, from major recall implementation expenses to rippling reputational challenges. If you don’t manage the situation properly and proactively, you’re unlikely to be successful in protecting your customer relationships and rebuilding your brand. Do you have an effective, efficient plan in place to address these concerns appropriately? Do you know the difference between smart actions and potentially damaging ones?
Food safety concerns have existed for as long as humans have been eating and drinking, but only in the last few decades has the industry seen such a monumental transformation of efforts to protect the public from unsafe products. In fact, the standardized quality control method known today as Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) began as a mission-critical NASA initiative in the 1960s to ensure the safety of prepackaged foods for spaceflight. 50 years later, innovative technology continues to advance food safety strategies and facilitate regulatory compliance across the supply chain. Protecting consumers from the plethora of biological, chemical and physical hazards that can lead to foodborne illness and other health issues is an ever-evolving undertaking.
The peanut butter debacle of 2007 is said to have cost parent company ConAgra $78 million to deal with $1 billion worth of potentially Salmonella-contaminated product. And while many significant strides have been made in the last decade to prevent occurrences of this magnitude, companies in the food manufacturing business still experience brand-damaging recalls -- some with resounding impacts on both the company and the industry at large.
Sanitation of the manufacturing plant is a pivotal contributor to contamination prevention, overall food safety and risk management, which is why no food safety effort is successful without effective communication with this department. But in many cases, sanitation tasks are outsourced to a third party, causing significant gaps in communication. When this happens, visibility suffers, assumptions are made, documentation responsibilities fall through the cracks and the entire organization is at risk.
News headlines featuring popular food brands illustrate the reputational damages and profitability losses that companies can experience as a result of food safety issues in the manufacturing process. The truth is many corporate leaders don’t have the necessary visibility into what’s happening at the plant level to rectify food safety mistakes before they become public health concerns.
Maybe you’ve been looking at food safety all wrong. It’s not just a compliance issue. It’s not a siloed compartment of your company. It’s not a list of boxes to check off. On the contrary, food safety is a critical brand protection function and therefore a driver of business profitability. Therefore, the more powerful your solutions to ensure food safety, the more your company stands to gain in terms of ROI.
Managing non-conformances is a complex effort, made even more challenging and complex with new food safety requirements. Executing corrective actions well and in a timely manner though is critical to both being compliant with regulations as well as continuously improving your operations to reduce brand risk. As FSMA continues to roll out and necessitate a proactive focus on contamination prevention, one of your top concerns must be to implement preventive controls that meet government provisions. You can’t expect to accomplish this objective without arming your team with the right tools for the job; tools that give them the right data at the right time!
As the entire domain of food safety transforms and FSMA deadlines elapse, corporate-level executives and brand managers must prioritize their companies’ compliance efforts or risk facing crippling impacts. From regulatory penalties and legal consequences to recalls and reputational damages, the stakes are high. Food safety is one of the few, if not the only, events that can terminally damage a brand. Don’t believe me? Just look at Chipotle, Blue Bell and Peanut Butter of America. What’s your strategy for preventing these potentially fatal brand consequences? Have you established a structured corporate vision for food safety excellence? Do you know how?
If you’re someone who’s responsible for the livelihood of your food organization’s brand, you’d likely jump at the opportunity to see into the future and prepare for what’s in store. After all, your brand is a precious commodity -- the lifeblood of your business -- and you know that protecting it is an absolute necessity. Luckily, you don’t need a fortune teller or a crystal ball to get a glimpse into food safety five years down the road. You simply need to recognize the emerging trends, respect the compliance landscape and heed the advice of industry experts.
If your corporation has established protocols and behaviors that satisfy all the requirements for FSMA compliance, you’re certainly on the right track. After all, these new rules are mandatory for food manufacturers, so you’d be facing significant penalties and risks by failing to comply. But if you’re focused solely on checking off the compliance boxes to avoid legal ramifications, you’re definitely missing the bigger food safety picture -- and that could have a negative impact on your brand.
The food manufacturing industry has been revolutionized by automation in recent years. What used to require excessive time and effort to manage via paper-based methods and cumbersome strategies is now streamlined through digital data collection, organization and reporting. Instead of wasting valuable production time on manual, labor-intensive processes for ensuring food quality and safety, plants have the benefit of optimizing these efforts through automated systems. Why, then, are some companies still failing to meet current safety standards and quality objectives. Why are they still suffering from inefficiencies that lead to costly problems? Is your organization facing a similar predicament? Even if you have an automated management system at your disposal, you may not be utilizing it correctly. A food quality and safety management solution is there to make operations easier, quicker and more accurate. If you’re not seeing these benefits, you may not be working with the right tool or getting the most out of it.
Smithfield Foods is a leading consumer packaged meats company, as well as the world’s largest pork processor and hog producer. When the company first began working with Corvium, one of its three divisions included 12 plant facilities manufacturing ready-to-eat (RTE) products that required environmental listeria monitoring. With approximately 1,600 weekly testing samples being tracked by two corporate food safety directors, management of the program had become a complex, labor-intensive and time-consuming one.
Yes, the food safety industry is majorly transforming as we speak. Yes, you need to shift your mindset immediately and refine your processes dramatically. Yes, there’s a hefty, potentially devastating price to pay if you continue to rely on outdated approaches and refuse to adopt proactive measures. But no, this doesn’t have to be a nightmare for your manufacturing company. And no, you don’t have to be afraid. Why? Because the reality of change is as old as time, and with most periods of change come evolution and innovation. This can certainly be said of the food processing industry.
Is your food manufacturing company in full compliance with FSMA yet? The clock is ticking, and deadlines are fast approaching. In fact, compliance dates for some companies have already passed. If you’re behind the timeline, it’s essential to get up to speed before noncompliance penalties are at your doorstep. Implementing the plans and procedures necessary to fulfill FSMA requirements isn’t a quick or easy effort. You may be intimidated by the time commitment and complexity, but that doesn’t mean it’s acceptable to ignore your compliance responsibility. Don’t jeopardize your operations or your brand by letting these problems and challenges get in the way of meeting FSMA regulations.
Animals are susceptible to foodborne illnesses just like humans are, and pet owners want to feel confident that the food they’re giving their pets is safe from contamination. Any threat to the safety of the food they’re purchasing could diminish their trust in the brand and result in reputational damage. As pet food recalls become more widespread, it’s important to assess your food safety efforts and take the necessary steps to prevent a costly outcome.
A food recall can be a manufacturing company’s worst nightmare. In fact, it’s one of the most dreaded possibilities for food safety managers everywhere. That’s because one food recall has the potential to bring your brand to its knees. In response to a recall, consumers may change their purchasing, food preparation and consumption practices, or they may avoid the product for months or years after the recall has ended. Your customers want to know that the products they’re buying are safe, and a single breach in that trust can have rippling effects that completely deteriorate your brand. Once the news of a recall hits the public, it can become a storm of bad press that turns customers away.
Getting your manufacturing operation up to speed with the tremendous transformation happening in the food safety arena requires an authentic shift in mindset and approach. It means adopting a more proactive, preventative plan to address the danger of pathogens. To minimize risk and meet rigorous FSMA requirements, you need a strong environmental monitoring program (EMP) in place. Unfortunately, not all EMPs are created and run the same way, and therefore don’t provide the same amount of protection and risk management! It’s critical to step up and strengthen you EMP, and do it in a way that is specific to the food you produce and will fit your unique facility best. Not sure what to look for?
The recall process in the food manufacturing industry is a highly stressful and expensive one, not to mention the irreparable damage that can be done to your brand. The public has become much more informed and discerning when it comes to food safety issues, which means you must be implementing the most careful processes to prevent contamination in your products. A crucial component of these efforts is having an effective food supplier verification program in place.
The FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is rolling out to companies large and small, and with the new compliance mandates comes greater responsibility on the part of food processors and manufacturers. It’s big news in the industry, and hopefully you’ve implemented the requisite plans and procedures to meet the evolving demands of proactive food safety. But does FSMA compliance mean you’ve significantly lowered the risk of a food recall?
The very thought of a food safety audit is enough to make a plant manager shudder. It’s often a dreaded ordeal requiring lots of time and effort. Plus, there’s the stress of making sure your audit successfully reflects all the work you’ve done to prevent contamination in the plant. But there’s no getting around audits, and with new FSMA rules being implemented, you should prepare to deal with them much more frequently. But here’s the silver lining -- you CAN significantly reduce the hours and headaches that go into preparing for an audit and increase your success rate. But, to do this seamlessly, you must take advantage of a well-matched software tool. Here are three prime reasons why food safety software can make your audit process significantly easier.
2016 saw a 22% food recall surge over the previous year, reaching approximately 764 total recalls in the U.S. and Canada, or more than 2 per day, according to research by Food Safety Magazine. It’s true that recalls are happening more frequently today than ever before, for reasons including stricter compliance regulations and ramped-up testing approaches. This stronger focus on testing has positively led to a greater discovery rate of contamination. This is actually a good thing because it means today’s food safety efforts are much more accurate and effective at identifying contamination and protecting the population. Nonetheless, recalls can be alarming to your customers, and the last thing you want to risk is their trust in your brand.
All along the food chain -- from producers and processors to retailers and consumers -- safety risks exist. Food is susceptible to contamination at many points in its journey. For food processing plants, this means it is necessary to establish and maintain strict, proactive practices for safe food production and handling. But, ultimately, who’s in charge of this effort? Where does responsibility for food safety risk management reside?
Every food processors knows that you must have a contamination response plan in place. However the real question is about whether or not your plan is an effective one! After all, you have a lot at stake here. If your plan is lacking, you open your brand, your organization and yourself up to all kinds of serious consequences: FDA audits, costly recalls, reputational damage, consumer deaths, criminal charges. Failing to implement a well thought out contamination plan can quite literally kill your company. Is that a risk you’re willing to take?
Food safety rules and regulations are undergoing a big, tectonic shift. Most recently, manufacturers have had to adapt to these new mandates introduced by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). These laws turn the focus from reactive food safety measures to proactive and preventive approaches. What does this mean for the manufacturer? It means adjusting processes and procedures in order to comply with various requirements for monitoring, testing, documentation, risk assessment and more. Regardless of the size of your operation, all of these food safety changes can be overwhelming, and you may feel like it’s impossible for the plant to keep up.
Now that the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is the law of the land, it is essential for food processing plants to have plans and procedures in place that fully comply with the new rules and regulations. Even if your plant is already meeting basic FDA regulations, there’s more you must do in order to avoid noncompliance, protect your brand and meet the evolving demands of food safety.
It’s no secret to anyone in the food and beverage industry that an outbreak can cost an average of $10 million in damages. So why are food manufacturers still reacting AFTER something happens instead of preventing BEFORE a situation runs out of control? It’s beyond vital that plant managers not only have an appropriate corrective action plan for handling positive test results on finished product, but it’s equally if not more important to have strong preventative measures in place to catch pathogens in the production environment BEFORE they enter the product and worst of all BEFORE they leave the facility!
We are all aware that communication is one of the most important aspects of a successful relationship. This statement is especially true when it comes to managing the food safety challenges in a food and beverage manufacturing plant. With the right tools communication and collaboration can be easy.
“Many food and beverages manufacturers are poorly prepared to comply with the record keeping requirements mandated by the Food Safety Modernization Act, according to a new survey”. How can you enjoy a food safety audit when the majority of manufacturers are unprepared you ask yourself? Most people equate a food safety audit with a visit to the dentist, an audit by the IRS or something else equally tedious and potentially painful. But it does not have to be this way.
The Food Safety Modernization Act shifts the Food and Drug Administration's focus from reaction to prevention. Food producers are now accountable for the safety of their products. A survey by iRely found "71% of food and beverages manufacturers believe that FSMA will require changing the way they operate." This contrasts with the 44% of them who can't point to specific parts of the act that could cause problems.
The passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) has brought about a period of "hurry up and wait" for the food production industry. It was signed by President Obama on January 4, 2011 and promised to bring sweeping change to the industry in hopes of reducing the numbers of Americans who become sick or die from unsafe food each year. But while little has changed since FSMA was passed, the FDA will be starting to enforce the new food safety regulations soon, and you have to be ready.
No one involved in food production ever wants to release contaminated food that could put consumers at risk. But without intensive testing, it can happen. In addition to performing spot tests on your food products, you should also be frequently testing your plant environment. Environmental testing plays a critical role in providing the layered defense system necessary to ensure that safe, healthy, nutritious, fresh and affordable food is produced for and delivered to customers.
If you work in a food plant, you know that food safety is a serious issue. If you're facing a food safety audit, you want to be as prepared as possible. Since the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act, food audit standards have changed, and the food plants of today need to be prepared.
A food recall can seem like a ruinous situation. However, keep in mind that hundreds of food safety recalls take place each year. By being transparent and diligent, your brand can survive one and emerge even stronger.
Today, FDA rules for food production and distribution change fast, and it can be difficult to stay on top of it all. Some of the most recent changes from the FDA revolve around the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). On September 17 of 2015, the FDA published its final rules for preventive controls in both human and animal foods. These rules require FDA-registered facilities that handle human and animal foods to monitor for hazards and implement preventive controls to mitigate pathogens.
Antibiotics have been used since the discovery of Penicillin in the 1940s, and have been incredible in treating potentially dangerous infections as well as opening doors to many medical procedures.
When it comes to food safety, we tend to focus on the food processor and their environmental monitoring system, or the home kitchen and how to keep food properly stored until consumption. But what about the in between step of where the food is sold?
It has been a busy month for our CONTROL team and we have lots of exciting updates to share! We have some exciting enhancements to Schedules and some other improvements that should make your experience with CONTROL even better!
It has been five months since state authorities declared that the water in Flint, Michigan was unsafe to drink. The situation has caught national attention, and has raised many questions towards water quality management systems.
It has been a busy month for our CONTROL team and we have lots of exciting updates to share! We have some exciting enhancements to remediations and a bunch of small changes that should make your experience with CONTROL even better!
As we all know, nutrition labels contain a lot of valuable information (serving sizes, ingredients, calories, total fat grams, cholesterol, etc.) that can help us maintain a healthy lifestyle. These labels offer vital information regarding what's in a product, how much is in a product, if the product can be consumed by particular individuals with dietary restrictions, and more.
We built CONTROL Basic because the work of environmental testing doesn't happen behind a desk and so you need tools that can tackle the challenge of food safety with you in every nook and cranny of your plant. You also need tools that let you plan but also adapt to the reality of unplanned events. We are always working to meet this goal and this week we have a few exciting updates to share:
Our goal is to make food safer. The first piece of this is detection but then you must respond to the results. The sanitation team plays a critical role in food safety. Let's do a quick run down of what the critical components in a sanitation program should include:
It has been a busy month for our CONTROL team and we have lots of exciting updates to share! We have some exciting enhancements to remediations and a bunch of small changes that should make your experience with CONTROL even better!
Spending most of my life on the east coast, I had rarely heard of Jack In the Box before I worked in food safety and then it was front and center. First for the event that woke up an industry and the lives it took and then for the world class changes and practices that they helped usher in. Let's review:
There's nothing glamorous about food safety (and food poisoning) but it does come up a surprisingly high number of times in movies and on TV. While food safety is no funny matter, we appreciate Hollywood bringing this to the forefront and making us giggle. Here are some of my favorites:
Every day, professionals are hard at work creating and experimenting with new food safety technologies. At Corvium, we're passionate about keeping track of what's new in the industry. We've compiled a list of recent stand-out food safety technologies we think you should know about.
Do the food and quality certifications sound a bit like alphabet soup to you? You are not alone! Having come from a manufacturing background, ISO was familiar but SQF and BRC were new to me. Let's do a quick run down!
Happy New Year! It has been a busy month for our CONTROL team and we have lots of exciting updates to share! We have enhancements to everything from reports to remediations to scheduling to settings.
According to Robert Brackett, Senior Vice President and Chief Science and Regulatory Officer of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), food safety metrics are vital for several reasons. Food safety professionals can use metrics to help assess the effectiveness of risk and safety, the development of appropriate preventive controls, food safety plans, plant design, and industry funded or conducted research. These findings can also help to create regulatory policies, establish public health priorities, and boost consumer confidence.
Protecting food from every single contaminate is nearly impossible. We simply can't wash out all the possible impurities. Even so, when you go to take a bite out of a chocolate bar or take a scoop macaroni and cheese, you're probably not thinking of rodent filth. Well, maybe now you are... Don't worry, the FDA doesn't allow a sizable amount of animal filth or other gross ingredients in your food. It's interesting to note the different threshold levels the FDA assigns to each food. For instance, you can't have 20 maggots per 100 grams of drained mushrooms but you can have 19. Below is a list of 12 gross things the FDA allows in the food supply and a few examples of each:
There are two schools of thought on environmental testing locations. Some plants identify test locations and keep them largely consistent. They then cycle their testing through those test points. Others, identify criteria for a set of testing based on area of plant, zone, shift, etc. and send their team out to identify new locations each time they test. Both methods can be used in conjunction with a strong environmental program to keep your plant safe. Many leading companies leverage a combination of both. Let's dig into the advantages and challenges of each approach and the tools that you need to manage them.
Wondering what foods do the most damage? Check out our infographic below to see which foods cause the most illnesses, hospital visits, and deaths.
We are continuously working to improve CONTROL. Check out these exciting updates around printing schedules and reports.
You may have heard the term "food safety culture" being thrown around recently. Following the Blue Bell ice cream outbreak, FDA's deputy commissioner claimed, "Facilities with a strong food safety culture want to fix the problem." After the recent E. coli outbreak at Chipotle, Bill Marler, a nationally recognized personal injury lawyer and food safety advocate, told BuzzFeed News, "I think corporate leadership needs to step back and look at their food safety culture." But wait a second, what is "food safety culture" and what steps can you take to improve its presence in your company?
Every morning I come into work, I check all my favorite food safety resources. These websites help me stay up to date on breaking news and continuously expand my knowledge on all things food safety.
We are continuously working to improve CONTROL. Check out these exciting updates around sorting, searching and exporting.
The FDA come into your plant either for a routine visit or in response to a recall. You have a strong program. You are committed to making it stronger. So wouldn't it be great to know what they are looking for. Well here are some of the observations from recent FDA plant audits:
Food safety culture is a hot topic these days and critical component to strong food safety program. Food safety culture, like any corporate culture, is built and maintained on 6 components: Vision, Values, Practices, People, Narrative and Place as defined by John Coleman in the Harvard Business Review. But technology can and should play a critical supporting role in food safety culture. Let's explore the what, how and why:
October is apple season! Orchards are full with families and caramel apples are popping up in grocery stores. But with recent recalls, should we be concerned?
We are continuously working to improve CONTROL. Check out these exciting updates around CONTROL Basic, Abandonment and Group Remediation Schedules.
Halloween is right around the corner. But remember, the excitement, cool costumes, and piles of sweets comes with some risk. Make sure you practice a food-safe Halloween this year by following these 6 tips:
At Corvium, we look at food safety differently. We believe testing should be fast and information should be accessible and actionable. With the help of new technology, we are excited to see food safety moving in a positive direction. In addition to improving our own products, we are constantly on the lookout for new advances in the food safety space. Here are some recent food safety innovations you should know about.
This week we announced our first iPad app, Corvium CONTROL Basic. This was long in coming and something we feel is critical in food safety. It is a key component in our overall mission to make food safer. Let me explain:
Apps are very helpful in today's fast-paced, digital world. When it comes to food safety, efficiency is key. Here are some food safety apps that are helping to prevent foodborne illness:
It's been 4.5 years since FSMA was originally written into law. This month, the first two major rules have been finalized: Preventative measures for human food and animal food. How exciting! For those who have been watching the FSMA process closely, there are only a few small changes to what has been previously published in response to public comments. Check out what's new to make sure you're up to code for the coming deadlines.
Each year in the U.S., 42,000 cases of salmonellosis are reported and 400 people die from acute salmonellosis. The key to preventing Salmonella contamination is the environment. At the beginning of this month, we launched a survey on Salmonella practices. Here are some of the interesting results.
If you've ever worked in a food plant, a restaurant, or in catering, you're probably familiar with the types of protective gear professionals use to keep themselves and the food they're working with safe. Some attire dates back centuries ago, like the classic white chef hat and some of it's goofy, like a beard net (for all you scruffy people out there). Whether classic or recent, the goal of these articles of clothing is safety and hygiene. Before we take a deeper look at what other purposes these items can have, let's take a look at the different types of food safety gear you find in the world today.
Last week one of my co-workers was out sick. All week we received a string of email and text updates, culminating with one from his wife saying that they were at the ER and that he had Salmonella. They determined that he had contracted it at a restaurant on Saturday night. He was out all week. Even at a food safety company, we are not so regularly reminded of the impact at both a personal and business level of foodborne illness. He lost 17 lbs in 5 days and commented that this is the sickest he has ever been. Fortunately, he recovered in a few days and is back to work, working harder than ever to keep food safe.
Infamously known for being the source of the massive salmonella outbreak in 2008 and 2009, Peanut Corporation of America has since gone bankrupt and closed its doors. With 714 illnesses (plus many more likely unreported), 9 deaths, and an estimated $144 million in economic losses, the outbreak that stemmed from PCA peanut butter stands as one of the worst food safety contaminations in modern history.
We are continuously working to improve CONTROL. Check out these exciting updates around multiple remediations, warning days and schedule import/export.
You may think you're a straight-shooter, but if you bring a Kinder Egg into the U.S., you're breaking the law. Although some food is legal (and highly celebrated) in other countries, there might be a federal ban if the U.S. government finds good reason.
About 2.8 million Americans have a peanut allergy. Peanut exposure can cause allergic reactions that range from hives to food-induced anaphylaxis. Each year, about 150-200 Americans die due to an allergic reaction to peanuts. To combat this problem, researchers have been working to create non-allergenic peanuts. We decided to take a closer look at recent advancements and what this innovation can mean for the American food supply.
We've found some food safety memes floating around the internet and we've made some of our own. Even food safety professionals need a good laugh!
Every day, more than three million people around the world fly on commercial aircraft. On many of these flights, airlines provide passengers with a meal and/or snacks. If you've flown before, you've probably had a little tray of foil-wrapped food items placed in front of you. You might be hungry or excited for something to do on a long flight but should you dig in, or think twice? Let's take a look at airplane food safety.
Leader in Food Safety Walmart is one of the world's largest retailers with stores set up in over 30 countries, over 200 million customers worldwide, 2.2 million employees, and tens of thousands of food suppliers. Frank Yiannas, Vice President of Food Safety for Walmart Inc. and a food safety expert, says that the Walmart approach is "establishing food safety performance standards as opposed to prescriptive solutions." Their methodology has already proven itself. In 2010, they instituted new protocols towards safety with beef and today, they have a 99% reduction in beef recalls among Walmart suppliers that are complying with these new requirements and standards. Here are some other reasons why Walmart's food safety is excelling and making them a leader in food safety protocol for large retail.
Admit it, even if you're a food safety professional, at some point you've licked cookie dough off a wooden spoon. After all, what's the fun in baking if you have to wait for the food to be ready before eating? As a child, your parents may have warned you not to eat too much or risk getting ill. If you work in food safety, you probably know what foodborne pathogens might be lurking in your uncooked cookie material. So, is sneaking a lick of raw cookie dough actually risky or just an old wives' tale?
Street food is eaten by almost 2.5 billion people everyday. There are over 15,000 food trucks in almost every city in the U.S. with food ranging from fish tacos to Vietnamese rice bowls. However, with such a small kitchen serving such a large customer base, is food truck food safe to consume?
We hear about new policies and regulations being put into place for food processors and distributors, but who exactly is putting these policies into place? FDA, CDC...it's easy to get them confused and mix up who does what. Here is an infographic on the three main bodies of government that are in charge of food safety regulations and politics, and what issues each one deals with.
Getting on the government's radar Food safety is not a frequently discussed topic in Presidential Elections, but 2016 is already proving to be a different case. Food safety experts are calling for more attention to food safety and food safety reform. In 2010, the Obama Administration passed FSMA (Food Safety Modernization Act), which is known as the biggest legislation towards the food industry since Teddy Roosevelt’s revolutionized the meatpacking industry. However, five years later, we are still seeing thousands of cases of foodborne illness. Many of the rules in FSMA have been implemented, but they are greatly underfunded. Not only that, but the different food safety branches of government have different rules and regulations, making food safety checks complicated and confusing. Many answers have been suggested to make food safety in America a better, smoother system. Congress members and upcoming presidential candidates are now focusing on how to make this change.
Researchers estimate that up to 15 million Americans have food allergies. According to a study released in 2013, the number of people who have a food allergy is growing. Every 3 minutes, a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency room. To prevent these dangerous reactions, food manufacturers are responsible for properly labeling their products with a list of ingredients and allergy warnings.
The food industry used to be more focused on damage-control than on prevention. Manufacturers would test a finished food product to ensure it was safe to consume or, more often than not, they would test in response to an outbreak of foodborne illness in order to discover what food was making people sick. However, in the last few decades, the food industry has greatly evolved. Now, instead of working to fix problems, manufacturers are taking steps to prevent them altogether. So, should you test the food or the environment? Here's your answer:
We are continuously working to improve CONTROL. Check out these exciting updates around remediations, investigative test points and support.
When I was young, I didn't know much about food safety. To be honest, I probably ate things off the floor and tried to eat the inedible. As the years went on, I began to learn some simple things, like wash the visible dirt off of fruit, smell your milk before you drink it, and don't eat too much cookie dough or risk getting sick. Honestly, I used to think my mother fabricated the cookie dough rule just so I wouldn't eat too much. When I began to question what was wrong with it, she gave me my first in depth food safety lesson: Salmonella.
Technological advancements are vital in the food industry. We are constantly learning more about foodborne pathogens and how to protect our food supply. In addition to advancing our own food safety technology, at Corvium, we like to keep an eye out for emerging technologies that will benefit our space. Here are some recent stand-out innovations:
When people think read-to-eat food, they most likely think of sandwich meat, salad items, cereal, and fruits. These are but a few items on the overwhelmingly long list. According to the FDA, ready-to-eat food includes raw animal food that is cooked a specific way or frozen in a specific way, raw fruits and vegetables that are specially washed or cooked for hot holding, all potentially hazardous food that is cooked and cooled to the time and temperature required, substances derived from plants, bakery items, and certain dried meats like jerky.
FSMA Review The Food Safety Modernization Act, controlled by the FDA, is a food safety reform law that shifts attention from responding to contamination to preventing it in the first place. It was first signed into act in 2011, and continues to be edited and expanded. The act focuses on three main topics: preventing food safety problems by improving standards of safety and procedures of production and shipping, improving the ability to detect and respond to food safety problems including more regulation about inspection and compliance of the facility being inspected, and improve the safety regulations and monitoring of imported food. It also touches on enhanced partnerships, both domestic and international. Here are some of the most recent 2015 updates to FSMA.
What is the TPP? The TPP stands for Trans Pacific Partnership. Similar to the TTIP, it is a proposed free trade agreement but instead of being between the USA and the European Union, the TPP is between the USA and countries found along the Pacific rim, as illustrated below. In regards to food safety and food trade, the deal hopes to remove trade-inhibiting tariffs, simplify custom procedures, and make international food trade less expensive. However, many are concerned that this simplification will leave room for error in food testing, and increase the amount of imported food that is not safe for consumption.
At the beginning of this month, the USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline turned 30 years old. In the past 3 decades, they have answered over 3 million phone calls. Here's a breakdown of their most noteable accomplishments and interesting stats.
What is it? TTIP stands for Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and it is a proposed free trade agreement between the United States and the European Union. The partnership aims to get rid of most tariffs affecting trade across the Atlantic. It also plans to lessen other non-tariff regulatory barriers to transatlantic commerce. If passed, it will create the world's biggest free trade zone spanning the north Atlantic and affecting one quarter of global trade.
We are continuously working to improve CONTROL. Check out these exciting updates around investigative test points and summary groups.
Many have heard the rule, most frequently cited by kids or desperate parents, that if food is on the floor for less than 5 seconds, then it is still safe to eat. The logic behind this “rule” is that in less than 5 seconds, the food is unable to pick up bacteria or other contaminants. Oftentimes, it is used as an argument to reduce amounts of waste, as well as an excuse to be able to pick up and finish tasty treats. We did a little research to see how accurate this really is.
There comes a time when you know a relationship is over and it is hard but you know it is right. It is time breakup with enrichment. To help you out, we even wrote the letter for you:
We are continuously working to improve Sample6 CONTROL so that truly gives you "control" over your data, your food safety program and your plant. We here requests from our users daily and we work hard to roll this into our product as quickly as we can. As we always say, together, we can make food safer and we thrilled to hear new ideas about how to make our environmental monitoring software help you. Based on some of your feedback, we have released a few exciting improvements:
There may be different perspectives within your organization as to what testing is required for your food safety program and each have different resource, risk and customer implications. As you sort out what makes sense for you, consider a few things:
With FSMA implementation underway, let's take a quick look back at the legislation from Lincoln to Obama that took control of food safety and shaped our current food safety system.
We are all human. We all make mistakes. Some are bigger than others. When it comes to data, a simple error can have significant consequences. To help solve this, we recently released improved upload tools in CONTROL. But just for fun, let's take a look at the top 5 data entry errors;
Big data is the all-encompassing term people use to describe a collection of data that's so large and complicated that it's very difficult to process using traditional methods. This data has the potential to be mined for information. 90% of the data that exists today was created in the past few years but only 0.5% of this data is currently analyzed. Big data has created a change in thinking. We now ask: What happened? Why did it happen? What's happening? Why is it happening? What is likely to happen? And what should I do about it? We have tools that help us answer these questions like reporting dashboards and real-time analytics. But can big data help us solve food safety problems? Let's take a look.
Trends are common phenomena. From ripped jeans and tie-dye shirts to Greek yogurt, certain trends appear - pervasive. These trends are harmless. However, a Listeria trend isn't so innocent. In just the past two months alone, there have been 16 different recalls due to Listeria contamination. Surprisingly, most of the recalled products are not usually associated with the bacteria. So, are these recalls related? Let's start from the beginning.
When most people think of food recalls, they don't think of recalls that affect their pets! Every year there are dozens of potentially harmful pet products recalled. Protect your furry friends by staying up to date with pet food recalls and learn the controversies that surround your loved ones' food. Enjoy this infographic by TopDogTips.com
In recent months, there have been quite a few recalls. Consumers are wary of ice cream, hummus, and a variety of dairy products. The FDA keeps track of all recalls in their database. Take a look at this infographic to see a recap of last year's recalls.
Say you're a hummus company. One day, your competitor discovers Listeria in one of their products and they have a massive recall. Unfortunately, if you don't have a proper traceability system in place, even though your products aren't contaminated, consumers may start to avoid the entire category of products. This can severely impact the entire industry rather than just the individual company responsible.
Food poisoning is a seriously unpleasant experience. Those of you who have had it probably don't want to even think about it. Those of you who haven't it, consider yourselves lucky because 1 in 6 of us get sick from foodborne illnesses each year! Luckily, when most of us run into a nasty foodborne pathogen, we might feel pretty sick but we have the immune systems to prevent further harm. Unfortunately, some of us are more vulnerable to foodborne diseases and need to take extra precautions. Check out the infographic below to see who's in the high-risk group.
\Due to a loophole that's been used for decades titled: 'Generally Recognized as Safe' (GRAS), an added substance is exempted from being labeled as a food additive if it is generally considered safe. As a consumer, this means many of the foods you buy at the store contain ingredients that haven't been evaluated or approved by the FDA. As a manufacturer, GRAS gives you the flexibility to self evaluate allowing you to add ingredients to your products without a long approval process. No one should be more invested in ensuring that components in products are safe than the manufacturer who places their name on it. Let's explore this a bit:
I work for a food safety company focused on Listeria so when a recall hits products that my friends and family care about, I get all sorts of text messages and emails. In the past week, I've received comments and questions on the recent hummus and ice cream recalls. At Sample6, our goal is to help companies avoid recalls in the first place through strong environmental sampling programs, driven by fast results and powerful software. However, until then, there will still be recalls and there will still be questions.
You're not going to be killed by warm mayonnaise or a freezer-burned steak.
Since it was published, the "Are You A Food Safety Pro" Quiz has been taken 252 times. Here's a breakdown of the results. By looking at the questions that had the lowest percent of correct answers, we can see what aspects of food safety need to be spotlighted.
It has been more than 3 years since we first started working on our environmental monitoring software, CONTROL. We started with a simple task, digitize the paper floorplans and sticky notes found in so many plants. We started with a basic floorplan, showing test points, their proximity to locations and their test history. Our users have helped us learn more about how this data is used, and helped us evolve the software to including scheduling, reports and remediation. But when we took a second look at the floorplan and realized, it was time for an upgrade! We are proud to share some of these improvements in our beta version:
Food labeling issues occur all too often in the United States. These mistakes are usually associated with negative consequences such as allergic reactions, recalls, profit loss, lawsuits, and even death. But what if some of these mislabeling incidents weren't a mistake but a conscious decision?