Category: Laboratory & QA/QC

Soaking Up Food Safety

An essential part of any robust environmental sampling program is ensuring concise, representative samples. Without ensuring the quality of a sample, one can certainly not ensure the quality of a sampling program, or the quality of one’s product.

One of the most popular methods of surface sampling used by our customers in the food industry are sponge samplers for larger areas (swabs being used most often for smaller and harder-to-reach areas). Often composed of cellulose or polyurethane, sponge samplers are everyday essentials for our food industry customers, that help proactively mitigate against environmental contamination concerns. Though a common, daily practice in a food processing facility, it is useful to occasionally revisit sampling techniques to ensure the best representative samples are being taken by employees.

So, if you haven’t revisited your sampling best practices lately, here is what the CDC recommends for proper sampling with a cellulose sponge. Though, specifically cited in a piece regarding Bacillus anthracis, the following is a great model to consult with for sampling methodology, overall.

Cellulose Sponge Sampling Procedure:

  1. Wearing a clean pair of gloves over existing gloves, place the disposable template over the area to be sampled and secure it. If a template cannot be used, measure the sampling area with a disposable ruler, and delineate the area to be sampled with masking tape. The surface area sampled should be less than or equal to 100 in2
    (645 cm2).
  2.  Remove the sterile sponge from its package. Grasp the sponge near the top of the     handle. Do not handle below the thumb stop.
  3.  If the sterile sponge is not pre-moistened, moisten the sponge by pouring the 10 mL container of neutralizing buffer solution over the dry sponge.
  4. Wipe the surface to be sampled using the moistened sterile sponge by laying the widest part of the sponge on the surface, leaving the leading edge slightly lifted. Apply gentle but firm pressure and use an overlapping ‘S’ pattern to cover the entire with horizontal strokes.
  5. Turn the sponge over and wipe the same area using vertical ‘S’ strokes.
  6. Use the edges of the sponge (narrow sides) to wipe the same area using diagonal ‘S’ strokes.
  7. Use the tip of the sponge to wipe the perimeter of the sampling area.
  8. Place the head of the sponge directly into a sterile specimen container. Break off the head of the sponge by bending the handle. The end of the sponge handle, touched by the collector, should not touch the inside of the specimen container. Securely seal and label the container (e.g., unique sample identifier, sample location, initials of collector, and date and time sample was collected).
  9. Place the sample container in a re-sealable 1-quart plastic bag. Securely seal and label the bag (e.g., sample location, data and time sample was collected, and name of individual collecting the sample). Specimen containers and re-sealable bags may be pre-labeled to assist with sampling efficiency.
  10. Dispose of the template, if used.
  11. Remove outer gloves and discard. Clean gloves should be worn for each new sample.

Nelson-Jameson offers a wide variety of environmental sampling supplies to help you keep your program in top order. You can check out our Environmental Testing Solutions webpage here. We also have a new collection of scrub samplers from 3M™ to peruse here, that feature a metal detectable stick and a 96 hour hold time. For more information on environmental sampling, contact one of our product specialists today!

Sources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012, January 30). CDC – Surface sampling procedures for Bacillus anthracis spores from smooth, non-porous surfaces – NIOSH Workplace Safety and Health Topic. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/emres/surface-sampling-bacillus-anthracis.html#.

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Nelson-Jameson Does That, Too?

As an employee of Nelson-Jameson for seven years now, I am continuously impressed with the number of projects and developing capabilities that are in process. All of these undertakings are done with one aim in mind: to help our customers create safe, quality food in the most efficient way possible. With this in mind, we actively seek out services, above and beyond our products and programs, to holistically meet our customer’s needs. Here are just a few of the programs that we offer, that you may not be aware of: 

Lab Design & Furniture: Yes, you read that right! We partner with PSA Lab Furniture to offer lab design and lab furniture services. Through this partnership, we are able to offer free design plans and estimates for your next lab revamp or new lab construction. We’re talking hoods, surface tops, cabinets, etc. Coupled with our wide range of lab instrumentation, equipment, and suppliers, we can help you build a lab from the ground up. Our lab and sales team can help you learn more at lab@nelsonjameson.com.    

Biofilm Audit and Treatment: If you have recurring hygiene and contamination issues, biofilms could be the culprit. Well known for their tenacity, biofilms can cause major headaches for processors, not to mention serious potential food safety issues. We work with Realzyme to provide in-person biofilm audits in your facility of OPC and CIP installations. The pros at Realzyme will then create a customized curative treatment to combat any biofilms present. Finally, you’ll receive a preventative treatment program, ensuring productivity, product quality, and bonus, you’ll see extended shelf lives for your products. Talk to your Account Manager today to help check into availability and rates, or email us at p.puttkamer@nelsonjameson.com for more information! 

Hand Hygiene Training:  Working with one of our strategic partners, Best Sanitizers, we can help your employees learn more about a key frontline effort for ensuring food safety -proper handwashing techniques. Best Sanitizers does a phenomenal job educating and allowing your employees to see the realities of improper handwashing, including cross-contamination concerns. The comprehensive training includes an informational session, handwashing demonstration featuring Glo-Germ® products, a Q&A session, and a certification for those individuals taking part. Drop us an email at j.pankratz@nelsonjameson.com to check into training availabilities.

Kaestner Services: Our sister company, Kaestner is your go-to for preventative maintenance services for the food, dairy, and beverage processing industries. Specializing in sanitary valve and actuator services, sanitary gasket plate heat exchanger services, as well as sanitary pump services, Kaestner’s team is on the ground and keeps operations moving. Contact Kaestner at sales@kaestnerllc.com to check on availability in your area!

If any of the above services were a surprise to you, well, buckle up, because this is just the start! Nelson-Jameson can help you with color-coded program audits, ingredients selection, sanitation chemical optimization, packaging trials, and many other services. Touch base with us today and let’s find the right comprehensive solutions for your operation.

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Go Green with Nelson-Jameson!

Happy Earth Day! This widely observed holiday is the perfect time to look back on the past year and reflect on each of our personal carbon footprints. How have we impacted climate change, global warming, and sustainability? I would say this last year the carbon footprint has been reduced compared to previous years due to the pandemic, especially in the earlier half of the year. Not only is this a time to reflect on our personal lives, but also on businesses nationwide. Nelson-Jameson has been doing our part of minimizing our carbon footprint by offering many eco-friendly products. From biodegradable gloves and paper products, to antibiotic test kits, and even turbidity sensors, we have the eco-friendly products needed to help reduce excess waste throughout any processing facility.

I would assume many individuals are questioning if sustainability is still a core focus in company values today, and the rightful answer is yes. Microsoft, a multinational company, stated this year that they pledge to become a carbon-negative company within 10 years (Scheel, 2021, pp. 2). Businesses across the world are still choosing to become even more sustainable for common reasons such as promoting efficiency, improving brand value, and innovation, a trend that seems to be sticking around for the long haul (Sustainable Business Network, pp. 4). How does the topic of sustainability affect the food, beverage, and dairy industries you may ask? Well, it does significantly.

With the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, sustainability is at the forefront of consumers minds when it comes to food. Consumers are expanding from not only caring about sustainability from the retailer perspective, but they also are intrigued to know each company that touches the food along the way has sustainability initiatives in place.

Nelson-Jameson offers eco-friendly product options that cover a variety of areas within a processing facility, including:

Safety Products: Biodegradable Gloves, Recyclable Beard Covers, and more.

Janitorial/Sanitation Products: Sanitizers, Soaps, and more.

Laboratory Products: Environmentally friendly Antibiotic Test Kits, ATP Swabs, Protein Residue Tests, and more.

Process Equipment: Anderson-Negele® Paperless Process Recorder, Turbidity Sensors, Conductivity Sensors, Alfa Laval OS Twin Screw Pump, and more.

Whether you plan to celebrate Earth Day by cleaning up garbage at a local park, or evaluating your businesses sustainability values and initiatives, remember to keep in mind that sustainability is key to promoting brand value for a business. To dive further into what eco-friendly products Nelson-Jameson has available, visit our website or contact us today.

Sources:

Scheel, R. (2021, February 03). Council post: Sustainability In 2021: Everything Companies Should Know. Retrieved April 16, 2021, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinesscouncil/2021/02/04/sustainability-in-2021-everything-companies-should-know/?sh=6029e663208c

Why Should My Business Become More Sustainable? (n.d.). Retrieved April 16, 2021, from https://sustainable.org.nz/guide-to-sustainability/

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NEW Color-Coded Catalog Available Now!

Springtime brings many new colors, from the flowers popping up in gardens to the spring and summer produce offerings at the grocery store. During this colorful time of year, it might be the perfect opportunity to take a look at color-coding in your facility, whether that means starting a new color-coded program or expanding an existing program.

Nelson-Jameson has expanded our color-coded program once again with the release of our 2021 Color-Coded Catalog. This year’s catalog has grown to 68 pages of products that are designed to help prevent allergen migration and cross-contamination. A complete color-coded program helps to lay the foundation for a solid food safety program, and can help minimize the risk of cross-contamination.

Why choose a color-coded system? A complete color-coded system helps promote organization and efficient workflow. Designating critical control areas and zones helps your sanitation program by ensuring that the tools stay in the areas in which they are meant to be used, doing jobs they are meant to do.

In addition to having the most extensive color-coded program in the industry, we also have the most color options to help meet all your color-coded needs. Our expanded catalog also includes new items like Carlisle Total Color Products, ColorCore Cleaning Tools, Vacuum Accessories, Cutlery, and more.

From the lab to the processing line, Nelson-Jameson has the color-coded products you need to produce safe, quality food. Download or request a copy of our new color-coded catalog today!

 

 

 

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FDA Inspections: Where are We Going?

Not only has COVID put a significant dent in our social lives, but it also has impacted many operations and practices throughout food processing facilities. Unfortunately, this includes one area that has consumers worried, inspections of food facilities. With all the new requirements and protocols that have come out of this pandemic, the industry has had to learn to alter their inspections. Some are even using video technology as a substitute. With COVID laying a foundation that will likely alter the way inspections are completed in the future, what should processing facilities across the country expect moving forward?

According to the FDA, inspectors are “required to inspect facilities that handle high-risk foods every three years. Facilities handling foods not deemed high-risk must be inspected every five years” (Fox, 2019, pp. 13). With being in the midst of a global pandemic, the FDA has halted these inspections, but is still conducting some necessary inspections for specific scenarios like outbreaks of foodborne illness and Class 1 recalls. 

To temporarily replace in-person inspections, many auditors are allowing for special accommodations to be made such as remote and hybrid audits (Black, 2021, pp. 5).

Aside from the FDA, other auditors such as BRCGS and SQFI are offering blended options. BRCGS is offering certificate extensions for up to 6 months with a risk assessment and review. Remote assessments are also available and require a video audit of the facilities storage and production spaces. SQFI is postponing certifications for extenuating circumstances and have implemented additional processes for risk assessment (Black, 2021, pp. 7). For more information on other auditors current COVID policies, click here.

Once in-person audits can resume in the future, the FDA plans to host pre-announced audits for FDA-regulated businesses. According to an interview with Frank Yiannas, it is predicted that health and safety are going to be important factors moving forward with inspections. It is also assumed that consumers are going to want to know not only how their food is produced, but also how it will be safe enough for them to eat. Fortunately, the FDA is in the works of implementing a Smarter Food safety initiative that will allow for a digital way to trace the food system (U.S. food & Drug Admin., 2020, pp. 31).

As for now it seems unknown when in-person audits will fully resume. The FDA stated in a press release that they will likely resume when there is a consistent downward trend in new COVID cases and hospitalizations in geographic areas they are working in (2020, pp. 6). Until then, they will continue to make significant strives with food safety, making it stronger than ever.

Sources:

Black, J. (2021, January 29). Food Safety Audits During a Pandemic: What You Should Know and How to Prepare. FoodSafetyTech. https://foodsafetytech.com/column/food-safety-audits-during-a-pandemic-what-you-should-know-and-how-to-prepare/.

FDA. (2020, April 16). Food Safety and Availability During and Beyond COVID-19. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/food/conversations-experts-food-topics/fdas-perspective-food-safety-and-availability-during-and-beyond-covid-19.

Fox, M. (2019, January 15). FDA to resume food safety inspections Tuesday. NBC News. https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/fda-resume-food-safety-inspections-tuesday-n958631.

Hahn, S. M. (2020, July 10). Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: FDA prepares for resumption of domestic inspections with new risk assessment system. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/coronavirus-covid-19-update-fda-prepares-resumption-domestic-inspections-new-risk-assessment-system.

 Sjerven, J. (2021, January 21). COVID-19 forces FDA to alter food safety inspection practices. Food Business News. https://www.foodbusinessnews.net/articles/15740-covid-19-forces-fda-to-alter-food-safety-inspection-practices.
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