Category: Education

Nelson-Jameson Lab Training Workshop

Nelson-Jameson is proud to announce that we will be holding “A ‘Calibration’ of Lab Testing” this October 17th at the University of Wisconsin-Richland. The seminar will be lead by two Nelson-Jameson Lab Team members in our Technical Services area: Steve Zdun and Dayton Bruha. Best practices in pH, microbiology, and salt will all be featured in the workshop. Perfect for food and beverage lab personnel, participants will get a hands-on approach to tackling these core areas.

Registration before October 1st, will guarantee an early bird rate of $150 ($175 after). Call one of our customer service representatives and mention item #333-3333 for more information!

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FDA’s Food Safety Plan Builder Software

In the demanding everyday life of a food manufacturer it can be hard to slow down and think about the safety of the products being manufactured. Everything from the ingredients that come in the door to the way the product is shipped out to the customer, all have to be monitored for safety. That is what the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is all about, making sure the ingredients, the process, and how the end product is shipped out reduces the level of risk to the consumer. The manufacturing facility has to ask, what can be done to prevent the various risks in the plant from happening and causing a recall?

A Food Safety Plan is a robust, detailed plan that is meant to anticipate and meet these challenges. A cohesive plan is based on food safety principles which include: hazard analysis, preventative controls, supply-chain programs, and a recall plan. For smaller businesses, putting a Food Safety Plan in place and maintaining that Plan can be daunting. Where do you start? Making sense of the regulatory language can be difficult, making it hard to determine what the FDA is going to be looking for if you were to receive an audit.

After some feedback from the food industry, the FDA created a free software tool, called the Food Safety Plan Builder. It is a tool designed to assist owners/operators of food facilities with the development of food safety plans that are specific to their facilities, and to assist them in meeting the requirements of the current regulations. Using this software is not required by the FDA, but facilities may find it of use as they continue to critically engage their Food Safety Plans.

Filling out all the information that the software requests can be labor intensive but with some effort and investment though, the Builder can act as a great framework to build upon.  According to Eric Edmunds, food safety director with The Acheson Group, “as with any other electronic tool, the product that you get out of it is as good as the information you put into it!”

If you are interested in using this tool here is the website:
https://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/FSMA/ucm539791.htm

The bottom line is that there are no shortcuts in creating a culture of food safety. Tools like the Builder are excellent resources to engage and assist in implementing comprehensive programs, but don’t make a complete toolbox in themselves. While food law and requirements can be laborious to understand and read they are important to get right. FSMA was created so that food facilities are held responsible for every bit of food safety including the supply chain from one facility to another. The FDA wants food facilities to know that when guidelines are followed and a good a Food Safety Plan is in place they are setting themselves up for success.

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Differentiating Filters and Strainers

Have you ever asked yourself, what is the difference between a filter and a strainer? Here we will take a look at each item individually and show how they stack up against one another.

First, let’s define each:
• A strainer removes large particle from liquid in the line to protect downstream processing equipment such as homogenizers, valves, pumps, etc.

• A filter separates solids from liquids in the line by passing the fluid through a media filter, which removes all particulates above a predetermined sizes, and allows the fluid and anything smaller to pass through.

Based on these aforementioned descriptions, it may seem that a filter and a strainer perform the same duty; both separate particles from fluids.

However, there is a key difference that distinctly sets apart these two products:
Strainers are used to protect downstream equipment. They remove larger foreign objects from the line before they get to the expensive equipment.

Filters are applied in order to separate particles from the fluid. The media filter grabs smaller unwanted particles to be removed and allows remaining fluid to carry onto the next step in the process.

Another minor difference can be related to resistance. Strainers normally present low resistance to flow. The pressure drop across most strainers is relatively small compared with the pressure drop across media filters.

Lastly, strainers are typically comprised of 316L stainless steel tubes, and are perforated. Filters also incorporate the tube, but require a media filter to be placed over the tube for removing the finer particles. Media filters are made of multiple materials and include polyester, cotton cheesecloth, and nylon, to name a few.

At Nelson-Jameson, we offer a wide variety of media filters, our Flow Stream Filter Tubes, as well as Retaining Rings to keep the media in place over the tube. If you would like to see our full line of sanitary filter media, click here to view our flyer.


Acceptance of Shipment Do’s and Don’ts

Inspection of product upon receipt from the carrier is a good practice for any facility, and can prevent questions, claim denial, and problems down the road. Here are a few tips to help everyone have a better experience:

  1. When a carrier calls to set up an appointment, be sure you can accept the freight within 72 hours of the call.
    1. Carriers will often charge storage fees after that time. $25 per day is not uncommon. In some cases, the freight may be returned to the shipper.
    2. Make a realistic appointment. Be sure you can keep that appointment.  In some cases a “re-delivery” charge is assessed if the driver arrives and cannot unload or make contact with anyone.
    3. If the carrier misses their appointment, they will not credit for the missed delivery. In most cases, the driver will arrive later or the next day.
  1. Check the driver’s delivery receipt.
    1. Is this shipment yours?
    2. Is all the required information/documentation present? I.e.: Purchase order, freight terms, number of pieces, cartons, or pallets, etc.

NOTE: If signing for pallets, a pallet may not contain ALL of your products/order. Likewise product contained within may have damage that is not visible.

  1. When receiving freight, inspect for any kind of damage and note the damage on the delivery receipt. Rubber stamping or writing “SUBJECT TO INSPECTION”, “SUBJECT TO COUNT”, Or “RECEIVED”, has no legal bearing. Failure to note damage or shortage at time of receipt greatly reduces the chance of collecting on a freight claim.
    1. Reviewing the packing list with the physical product will need to be done to determine if you are missing anything. If there is product missing or damaged and you have already signed for the pallet(s) – this is considered “Concealed” loss/damage.
    2. This type of loss must be identified and reported immediately to carrier or shipper. As of April 2015, carriers must only give a maximum of 5 days for claimant to report damage after signature is obtained. Once this timeframe has expired, claims are denied immediately.
  1. Be specific in your notation: crushed corner, broken arm, forklift damage through center of boxes, wetness stains, leaking, etc.
    1. Don’t allow the driver to hurry or pressure you into signing their delivery receipt before you have inspected.
    2. Don’t accept driver tallies or counts.
    3. Don’t make notations that relate to your opinion of the cause of damage.
  1. Look for torn or disturbed shrink wrap or boxes with the arrows pointing down instead of up. These could all be signs that your shipment sustained damage in transit and was restacked later.
    1. If you suspect damage, open the carton or crate and inspect it in the driver’s presence.
    2. Make notation of inspection including the specific items, damage sustained, and quantity of said items on the delivery receipt. Include driver’s name if possible.
    3. Take a picture or several pictures of the damage. Be sure to include any signage on the pallet/product. I.e.: Do not double stack, Fragile, This Side Up, Etc. Take a picture of the signed Delivery Receipt or Bill of Lading document with the damage/loss noted. In the case of electronic signatures, Electronic signature software DOES allow for comments to be made regarding condition of product. Take a picture of the notation on the scanner.
  1. Keep all packing materials in the condition upon arrival. DO NOT DISPOSE OF OR DESTROY THE PACKAGING.
    1. This will be needed as often inspections are conducted by the carrier.
    2. Without all the packaging, the carrier might determine the cause of damage was insufficient packaging and the claim will be denied.
  1. If the item being received has been damaged to the point where it cannot be used, then refuse to accept the delivery from the carrier and contact the shipper immediately. Again, be sure to notate on the delivery receipt the reason for refusal. Be specific.
    1. Refusal of a shipment without just cause will result in return charges being assessed.
    2. These charges may be passed onto the customer without specific cause noted on the delivery receipt.
    3. Before refusing, contact your shipper to identify any consequences of refusal.
  1. If an inspector from the carrier arrives to assess the damage, be sure there is a representative from your company present for the inspection.
    1. Generally inspection reports must have a signature of agreement from the recipient.
    2. Be sure you agree with all the facts in the report before signing.
  1. If an inspector wants to remove the damage product without an inspection report being filed or signed, you have the right to refuse, however carriers often give one chance to inspect and if denied, the claim is subsequently denied.
    1. Ask the inspector for a copy of the report when finished and contact the shipper to determine your role and what has been arranged.
  1. Using collect accounts often leaves the sole responsibility of a claim on the recipient. Be sure you understand all the consequences of shipping via collect.

Listeria vs The Dairy Industry

In February I had the opportunity to attend the “Artisan Dairy Producer Food Safety Initiative Workshop” to learn about the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) along with other leaders in the dairy industry here in Wisconsin. It was put on by the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association and was offered at no expense thanks to a generous grant from USDA-NIFA. Marianne Smukowski, from the Center for Dairy Research (CDR) and Matt Mathison from the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (WMMB) were the trainers for the workshop. The workshop was a brief overview of the expectations that the FDA has put before every business in the food industry, from the large to the small plants. This workshop was geared towards the dairy industry, focusing on the hazards that arise, and how to put a detailed plan together to prevent them. One of the hazards that was of special interest, especially due to the sheer amount of news coverage that it has gotten in the previous months, was the elimination and prevention of Listeria monocytongenes in raw milk, cheeses, and Ready-to-Eat (RTEs) products.

Listeria monocytongenes is a gram-positive microorganism that does not form itself into a spore when dormant, doesn’t need oxygen to reproduce and can grow between -0.4 and 50° C (31.28 and 122° F). L. monocytongenes can be found in numerous places in our environment, including water, soil, dust, plants, animal feed, feces, and sewage. When it comes to the dairy plant, Listeria has been mostly found in moist environments including drains, floors, coolers, conveyors, and case washing areas. Pasteurizing is the most effective way of destroying Listeria, but if post-contamination occurs Listeria growth can swiftly get out of control. Listeria can quickly multiply to dangerous levels, and despite proper refrigeration can continue to multiply.

Listeriosis is the foodborne illness that is caused by Listeria monocytongenes. It is estimated that it affects 1,600 people every year in the U.S and it is known to kill 19.5% of those sickened by it. Much like any foodborne illness it can affect the immuno-compromised, the elderly, and it is also known to impair and sometimes kill fetuses.

So what can be done to prevent the contamination of Listeria? First and foremost a detailed safety plan that segregates raw milk and the tools and equipment used before pasteurization from the pasteurized milk is absolutely necessary. This can be assisted by using a color-coding system to keep brushes, squeegees, pails, etc. from being cross-contaminated with raw milk. Just recently Nelson-Jameson put out a new Color-Coded Catalog highlighting the numerous products that can be put in place to create a zoning system to prevent the cross-contamination that is so dangerous to product. You can check out that catalog here. Another important part of preventing Listeria is developing an environmental cleaning, sanitizing and monitoring program. Nelson-Jameson carries a variety of ATP monitoring systems to help with this. Check out this previously featured, easy-to-understand blog, that breaks down what ATP is and what luminometers can do to assist in ensuring cleaning efficacy. We also carry quick swabs that can specifically be used to test equipment for Listeria.

Unfortunately, recalls due to Listeria keep popping up. Nelson-Jameson is provides the tools and instruments to help prevent recalls. Not only does Nelson-Jameson provide you the luminometers, swabs, brushes, and other equipment needed, but we also do our best to help our customers search out educational opportunities that can be so powerful in helping understand and combat food safety threats.

For instance, our partners at Cherney College have a variety of classes that could be helpful in preventing Listeria along with any other microorganisms from entering product. Some of the classes from Cherney college include: “Environmental Monitoring & Sanitation Essentials,” “Introduction to Food Microbiology-The Basics,” “Advanced Food Microbiology” along with a few others. Check out their website for dates. Mention that you are a Nelson-Jameson customer at checkout and receive 10%. In addition, the CDR has some great short courses, including, “Wisconsin Cleaning and Sanitation Workshop,” “HACCP Workshop,”, and “Milk Pasteurization” that can assist with helping plants become safer. Together, and through educational opportunities like those mentioned here, the food and dairy industries can take on the challenges of the Food Safety Modernization Act, fight food safety threats like Listeria, and ensure a safe food supply for the nation.