Keeping It Safe At Home This Holiday Season: Allergies

As the song goes, “if the fates allow” we’ll perhaps be able to see more friends and loved ones in person this holiday season. If you are hosting any holiday guests, it can often feel like you have enough on your plate to begin with (a small holiday pun there…), before even thinking about guest dietary restrictions.  However, a bit of planning can go a long way to make all of your guests feel welcome and cared for, no matter what dietary restrictions they may face due to factors like their religious affiliation, personal preference, health issues, allergies/sensitivities, etc.   

More specifically here, in terms of contending with food allergies you can use these seven festive tips to better accommodate your guests with these dietary restrictions.     

  1. Know your major allergens. 90%(!) of known allergic reactions come from 8 key foods: milk, eggs, fish, crustaceans, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans.  
  2. Read your labels. Food producers are required to label any foods that contain one of the “big 8” allergens. Check the label for assistance in knowing what to safely purchase.   
  3. Avoid cross-contamination. Use clearly marked, separate utensils, cutting boards, etc. when handling foods, if there are allergens. Consider color-coding for an easy-to-identify system in your kitchen.
  4. Clean and sanitize your work areas and utensils after handling food allergens. 
  5. Be sure to advise guests with food allergies on what foods to avoid. You can always label foods to assist as well. 
  6. Keep an eye out for the signs of an allergic reaction. Symptoms can vary, but recognizing symptoms like wheezing, hives, face/tongue/lip swelling can save lives.  
  7. The easiest thing to do is ask. Check in with guests before hosting your event if they have any allergies or food restrictions. Doing so means a great deal to guests with food allergies/restrictions, as it helps anticipate their needs and makes them feel welcome and included in the festivities.

You can learn more about many of the points above from this handy sheet from the FDA.  The happiest and healthiest of holidays to you and yours from Nelson-Jameson!

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The Many Applications of UV-C Disinfecting

UV-C Disinfecting in The Food Industry

UV-C light disinfectant Ensuring proper disinfection of your food processing equipment is paramount in eliminating pathogens from wreaking havoc on your bottom line. Traditional chemicals have been a part of the cleaning process for generations in the food and beverage industry. In recent years, another form of disinfecting has made its way into the fold that works hand in hand with your traditional cleaning program, Ultraviolet-C (UV-C) light. UV-C light utilizes short wavelengths of light to deactivate and eliminate microorganisms such as bacteria, mold and viruses in a matter of seconds.

UV-C light is able to enhance the effects of traditional cleaning solutions.

After a thorough cleaning using your standard CIP and COP procedures, you are able to illuminate your surfaces with the powerful UV-C light that has been shown to break down the microorganisms that traditional chemicals leave behind by reaching into all of those hard to reach places. Utilizing the perfect one-two-punch of chemicals and UV-C light creates superior sanitation that virtually eliminates all threats of contamination on your food processing equipment.

Even though UV-C is not a substitute for thoroughly cleaning your food processing equipment, using it in conjunction with traditional chemicals in the sanitation process provides you with a vital tool in your toolbox of cleaning supplies. 

Ensure you are using the very best in UV-C technology with the Aurora UV Disinfecting Device from SMS Technologies that you can order right here.  Thanks to UV-C, the crucial last step in cleaning and sanitizing your food processing equipment has never been easier or more efficient.


UV-C Disinfecting in The Laboratory

Introducing: nUVaCleanTM UV Pipette Carousel
The first and only pipette rack that not only organizes and protects six pipettes, but also destroys greater than 99% of unwanted contamination. Using a germicidal UV-C lamp, a high-efficiency reflector/concentrator completely bathes pipette shafts in 254 nm UV light. This exposure destroys unwanted microbiological contaminants and prevents cross-contamination in PCR and other sensitive procedures.

Just place single-channel pipettes of any range or brand in the carousel and press the “start” button to begin the auto-decon cycle. After 28 minutes this device will power down automatically, delivering up to 6 pipettes that are safe, clean, and ready for use.


Preparing for Food Safety in Game Hunting

For many people throughout the United States, hunting wild game is a beloved pastime–whether for the enjoyment of the outdoors, thrill of the hunt, or an economical way to obtain food. Along with this hobby comes many safety precautions. Just as a hunter should be trained in firearm safety and first aid procedures, food safety is also important. Educating one’s self on the dangers of foodborne illness is one step closer to harvesting a game animal for safe consumption.

Know The Risks
Harmful bacteria such as Salmonella and E.coli can live in raw or undercooked game meats. It is important to note the stages in which contamination may occur, and what steps can be taken to ensure you have processed your animal in the safest means possible.

Contamination can occur through the initial wound sustained by a bullet or an arrow. It is best to avoid hitting or puncturing the area around the stomach and intestines, as this would result in spoiling much of the surrounding meat due to the bacteria that lives within these organs.

Another area of concern in game food contamination is the possibility of cross-contamination. Be sure to pack clean utensils and tools for field dressing or butchering your game animal. Even the smallest of pathogens can wreak havoc on the quality of your game meat. Pack alcohol wipes for regular cleaning of the hands and tools before, during, and after use. Also plan to pack supplies such as paper towels, a clean plastic drop cloth or tarp, and disposable plastic gloves. Keeping your area, tools, and hands clean during the removal of entrails is a big part of ensuring your kill will be safely preserved until you can reach a controlled environment for processing.

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Recommended Equipment for Field Dressing Deer & Other Large Game
For proper field dressing, bring the following items with you when you hunt:

  • Sharp knife
  • Small hatchet
  • Whetstone or steel for sharpening
  • Several feet of rope or nylon cord
  • Rubber bands
  • Clean cloths or paper towels
  • Resealable plastic storage bags
  • A large cooler full of ice/snow
  • Ground pepper and cheesecloth
  • Disposable plastic gloves
  • Clean drinking water

Recommended Equipment for Field Dressing Game Birds
For proper field dressing of game birds, bring the following items with you when you hunt:

  • Sharp knife
  • Resealable plastic storage bags
  • Whetstone or steel for sharpening
  • Cooler full of ice/snow
  • Rope or nylon cord
  • Disposable plastic gloves
  • Clean cloths or paper towels
  • Clean drinking water

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Preserving Your Game Meat for Processing
Temperature control is a factor that is mostly out of the control of the hunter. Depending on the region you live, hunting season climate can range from warm and humid to below freezing temperatures. In areas like Wisconsin, we often don’t have to worry about this aspect, as our harvested game cools down quickly and for the most part remains on snow-covered ground until it can be loaded for transport. If this is not the case, consider taking coolers filled with ice or packaged dry ice. If the outside temperature is above 41° F, the hide should be removed from large game as quickly as possible. The longer the carcass remains in temperatures above 41°F, the greater the risk of foodborne pathogen growth. When transporting your large game animal, do not wrap the carcass. Trapping heat around the carcass encourages the growth of bacteria and other foodborne pathogens. In contrast, with small game animals like rabbits and squirrels, it is recommended to skin the animal while field dressing, wrap the carcass in clean plastic wrap or butcher paper, and place in a cooler for transport. The smaller the game, the quicker the internal temperature will cool down – improving the overall safety of the meat.

Game meat should then be processed and packaged as quickly as possible, either by utilizing a commercial processing facility or implementing the same practices as during field dressing by processing on a clean surface with clean tools and protective coverings for your hands and other surfaces.

Be Informed Of Other Factors
One last thing to consider when preparing for your hunt is being educated on the signs of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). This prion disease affects deer populations across North America, including elk, reindeer, sika deer, and moose. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise that hunters try to minimize their risk for exposure by consulting with their area DNR or wildlife agencies as to areas of known cases and where testing sites are located in your hunting vicinity. Always avoid eating meat from an animal that seems sick or tests positive for CWD.

Click here for more information on how to field dress an animal and food safety tips.

Sourced from Food Safety News.

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SQF – What It Takes To Score 100%

The score everyone wants to achieve for any “test” we have taken (from grade school through post-secondary education) is 100%. One Hundred is also the score that any company involved with the Safe Quality Food (SQF) standard wants to achieve.

But…What does 100% mean in SQF?

Does it mean that your company is doing everything right? What is involved in getting that score? What does it take to maintain it? 

First, congratulations on becoming SQF certified. Learning the SQF code and preparing your facility takes time. On average it’s about 6 months from the time a company opts into the program until the time they earn the certification. Much of this time is spent preparing for the audit through paperwork trails and training programs. The audit itself is a very short process in and of itself. The average audit is only 2-3 days; which means a company is preparing for the audit the other 362 days of the year. 

Click here to learn more about getting started with SQF.

What Does An Auditor Look For?

Anyone that has been through an SQF audit knows that it is a “snapshot in time.” Your auditor will even tell you this in your opening meeting. The auditor certainly cannot see everything a company is doing in just 2-3 days. SQF auditors, however, are well trained. The certification process to become an auditor is lengthy and there is annual continuing education involved. These auditors are also well versed in the SQF code. Many are crossed-trained and can audit multiple codes and categories within the SQF umbrella. When a company is undergoing an audit, they must provide documentation pertaining to Module 2 of the code (whether your scope is in manufacturing, retail or distribution, module 2 is the same.) In Module 2 the auditor is looking at a company’s management responsibilities as well as programs involving food safety (HACCP), manufacturing practices (GMP), verifications of these programs, trending, internal inspections and allergen management in addition to a number of others. 

Sitting through the desk audit can be painstaking. Hours of auditor questions and offerings of company program documents to show that a company is doing what they say they are doing. An auditor will then take knowledge of the company’s programs and make their way to the warehouse or processing site to make comparisons. Again, asking themselves, “Is the company doing what they say they are doing?” 

The auditor will review prerequisite programs. These programs may involve cleaning, maintenance, pest control, and temperature controls to name only a few. Documentation of these activities must be impeccable. An auditor will look for inaccuracies, missing information and lack of detail. They will also be looking for trends in program management. The auditor will make comparisons from month to month through the documentation provided. An auditor may then interview personnel, with questions pertaining to their job functions and programs such as allergen management or temperature control. 

Your Auditor Is Your Friend

The auditor is not in a facility to fail them or “find” something wrong. The auditor is there to observe and research the processes. Remember, the audit itself is merely a snapshot of what is likely getting done throughout the remainder of the year. Findings by auditors can be very minor and cause the loss of only a point or two on an audit or they may find a complete breakdown in a process which will lead to a follow-up audit 6 months later. 

When an auditor is satisfied with the information they have received, both visually, verbally and in type they will review findings if any were observed and create a report.  No findings means that the auditor found nothing in the paperwork or processes that was of concern, as it applies to the SQF code. With that, a company earns a score of 100%. 

Achieving A High Score Is A Team Effort

Yes 100% is attainable and sustainable. It does not come without hard work and dedication. Not only must the SQF Practitioner and upper management continue to work on the program, all personnel involved in the company’s processes must be diligent in making certain that they are carrying out the functions of the company’s Food Safety Plan, every single day. 

Nelson-Jameson and its employees are dedicated to Food Safety. 100% has been achieved in our SQF certified facilities 8 times consecutively. Will this happen every year? Possibly not. However, we will continue to strive for that score. Achieving a score that is not easily given out is a great morale booster for employees, as well as an assurance to partners and customers that the safety and integrity of products that come through our distribution center is our top priority.

Find out more about the SQF code at:  https://www.sqfi.com/

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Maxiren® XDS: Going Whey Above and Beyond

Shredded CheeseMaxiren® XDS and Nelson-Jameson make a GOUDA couple!

You FETA BRIE-LIEVE IT!

And yes, we are together for the long haul.

Maxiren® XDS is a fermentation produced chymosin (FPC) that protects, preserves, and optimizes the required coagulant in the cheese process helping cheese reach its full potential of GRATE taste and big smiles. There is an increase of flexibility in the cheese production when Maxiren® XDS is involved. This extraordinary coagulant has a high specificity which lowers the amount of coagulant required, and aids in slowing the breakdown of cheese proteins, resulting in enhanced cheese textures. The enriched texture maintains a longer shelf life which allows shredding, slicing, and dicing to be smooth, natural, and more efficient through different cheese stages.

Just the facts, (Pepper) Jack!

  • Maxiren® XDS manages whey protein. It will be inactive after pasteurization at temperatures between 66° to 73°C, therefore reducing concerns over residual rennet left behind.
  • Strengthens the stretch! Long, thin strands hold better without breaking into thinner strings. Also promotes a reduction in browning and upholds an exceptional cheese melt.
  • A chymosin preparation derived from a selected strain of the dairy yeast Kluyveromyces lactis.
  • Kosher and Halal approved.
  • Not a GMO.
  • Suitable for vegans and vegetarians.
  • Allows for easier shredding, dicing, and slicing of cheese.

For more information, please give us a call! Our Ingredient Product Specialists will be happy to discuss your current processes, and work with you in your facility to suggest the right product for your application.

Go ahead—throw in the Maxiren® XDS—afterall, age is only important when it comes to cheese!

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