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.
Use this checklist to help avoid Tens of Millions in damage costs, severe brand equity loss, and unexpected food audits.
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.