Category: Safety & Personnel

The Food Safety Modernization Act: An Undertaking in Progress

Ten years…that’s a long time, right?  But…not really.  The more I see 10th, 20th, or 25th anniversary releases of favorite albums or movies, the more I feel like time is slipping away…and ten years seems more like a blink.   So, when you consider the dichotomy of the slow and all-too-quick hands of time, it’s impressive how much has been accomplished, and yet how far we have to go in food safety since the Food Safety Modernization Act was enacted in early 2011.   

As much as it would be great to go with either a “yay” or “nay” as to whether it has been a success, like many pieces of major legislation, there have been both phenomenal strides as well as stagnation.  As food safety is a complex undertaking, involving waves of domestic and global political and trade relations, budgetary concerns, etc., the quality assurance of the Act itself can be a challenge at times.  As we’ll see though, overwhelmingly, FSMA has represented a tectonic shift in approaching food safety concerns, and has set the table (yes, that just happened) for increasing advances in the coming years.

The data suggests that we do have a long way to go.  The CDC succinctly summarized this in “Preliminary Incidence and Trends of Infections with Pathogens Transmitted Commonly Through Food — Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network, 10 U.S. Sites, 2016–2019” stating that: “The incidence of most infections transmitted commonly through food has not declined for many years.”  Although disappointing to those invested and concerned about food safety, it is important to remember that FSMA is not a stagnant absolute, existing in a vacuum of regulatory comfort.

Instead, FSMA, like food safety itself, is a continuously evolving and changing entity.  To respond to new science and to new challenges, FSMA depends on building on foundational scientific knowledge, while adeptly adjusting to the reality of challenges of the time (COVID-19 being a great example).  Though there is a long way to go, FSMA has achieved numerous outcomes that have been important to the industry and to the march towards a safer food system.   

As Sandra Eskin, of Pew Charitable Trusts, noted in a recent food safety session at IDFA’s Dairy Forum, the reality is that while FSMA is ten years old, the compliance dates established to meet the goals of FSMA are only now a few years old. This complicates our “FSMA at 10” theme a bit, but we can surmise a great deal from both those years of buildup and those of ennactation/enforcement.   Here is a sampling of what has been accomplished by FSMA so far, as outlined by Deputy Commissioner of Food Safety Frank Yiannas in his “A Decade Later, FDA Still Working on Congressional Mandate Known as FSMA:”

  1. Food producers “must have food safety plans that include an analysis of hazards and risk-based preventive controls to minimize or prevent these hazards.”  
  2. Improved “regulatory oversight of produce and food importers.”
  3. Implemented practices to prevent food safety risks during transportation.
  4. Gained: “additional enforcement authorities, such as mandatory recall when a manufacturer fails to voluntarily pull unsafe food from the market and suspension of registration to prevent a facility from selling or distributing unsafe food.

To add to these and other advances, the FDA this year encouragingly released their “New Era of Food Safety” blueprint, laying out areas of development in the next decade of FSMA.   Along with increased traceability initiatives, meaningful use of technology, and business/retail model modernization, the blueprint centrally is built upon creating “food safety cultures.”  This means making food safety a shared goal by everyone in the plant, in the supply chain, and beyond—top down and bottom up investment–everyone is in on it.  This should further encourage that “tectonic shift” mentioned previously, fundamentally shifting existing perspectives on food safety in the industry.  The ability to shape the future of food safety and cultures of food safety will be dependent on education, industry/regulatory/academic partnership, collaboration, and advocacy on Capitol Hill, just as the shifting of views from reactionary to preventative action required these first ten years.  

As Dick Groves stated in his editorial in the Jan. 15th issue of The Cheese Reporter, “Simply put, the food safety culture matters more than regulations.”  Groves makes a good point about the centrality of food safety culture; however, perhaps it is a mixture of conceptual shifts and continued dependence on education and partnership to further spread the gospel of food safety and regulatory knowledge/standards (consider that not having an adequate hazard analysis is still one of the most commonly cited violations by the FDA) that will make the next ten years truly effective in the fight against foodborne illness. 

Ten years indeed can feel conversely like an eternity and a blink of an eye.  The first decade of FSMA has been an experiment in adaptation.  And it will continue to be so for the next ten, marrying the realities of regulatory standards with an embrace of a holistic framework of food safety and food safety culture at all levels (including establishing this at the federal level…which is crucial for funding).  Together we can continue to learn, improve, and work together towards this common goal.  Food safety is not a destination, it is a journey.  We must continue working together as an industry to reduce risk in the food supply chain, relentlessly combatting foodborne illness.  No matter how far we are able to push that boulder up the hill, there will always be further to go. Many hands make light work, though, so let’s all commit to the effort and make the next 10 years count.

Source(s):

Marler Clark. (2021, February 9). FDA’s data for 2020 shows top five violation categories at food facilities. Food Safety News. https://www.foodsafetynews.com/2021/02/fdas-data-for-2020-shows-top-five-violation-categories-at-food-facilities/?utm_source=Food%2BSafety%2BNews&utm_campaign=280373c947-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_f46cc10150-280373c947-40046447#.


Knowledge at Your Fingertips

Resources made available with Nelson-Jameson’s Learning Center! This educational learning library was created to encourage our customers to seek out information, when applicable, to aid them in making informed purchasing decisions within the food, dairy, and beverage industries. By providing this free resource for anyone to use, our goal is to have you feel comfortable and confident in the products you purchase.

An intriguing aspect of our Learning Center is that the information we are providing is supplied to us by manufacturers, and industry associations. It is our goal to relay to you the most up-to-date information for your convenience. The information within this resource falls into several categories: Laboratory & QA/QC, Packaging & IngredientsProcess & Flow ControlSafety, and Sanitation & Maintenance. Within each of these 5 areas, there is a range of subtopics that we determined were important for our customers to expand their knowledge on. Here is a brief overview of each of these sections:

Laboratory & QA/QC: We offer food safety products and solutions that help the food and beverage industries protect the quality of their products by utilizing proven, methods-based laboratory procedures. Learn more about Hydrating 3M™ Petrifilm Plates, pH Electrode Selection Guide, pH Testing Tips, and Nelson-Jameson pH Buffers, and more.
Packaging & Ingredients: Food safety begins with quality ingredients and packaging. Learn more information about our wide line of food and dairy ingredients, Choosing Cheese Packaging, Selecting Cultures & Coagulants for Taste & Texture, and Packaging Films.
Process & Flow Control: Keep food and beverage production running smoothly. Learn more from these resources designed to help meet your unique food, dairy, and beverage needs, such as Hose Maintenance Tips, Gaskets, Pump Maintenance, and Filtration Ratings.
Safety: In the food, dairy, and beverage industries, it is important to protect employees from injury and food product from possible contamination. To protect your assets, learn more about Noise Reduction Ratings, Protective Clothing Materials, Footwear Sizing, and peruse our Glove Selection Guide.
Sanitation & Maintenance: Keep your plant clean and safe with quality sanitation and janitorial products. Learn more about Broom Bristle Options, Insect & Pest Control, and Disinfectant Mats™.

At Nelson-Jameson, we strive to make our customers’ lives easier by providing products, solutions, and technical expertise when needed. Whether it’s figuring out how to clean a tank properly or learning about broom bristle options, Nelson-Jameson is your one stop shop—Click here to view our Learning Center and learn more about our areas of expertise!

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New Year, New Sanitation Program

Achieve an effective sanitation program in your facility with footwear and surface sanitation products! In the food production process, cross-contamination can occur at any point. Employees can track in a myriad of potential contaminants and unknowingly put an operation at risk each time they breeze through a doorway to a production area. Having an effective sanitation program in place that addresses employee hygiene is key.

A primary route of contamination is the bottom of people’s shoes, so cleaning footwear has become just as important as washing hands when coming into a facility. “Items which contact the floor are contaminated and could serve as vectors; despite daily cleaning of high-touch surfaces such as floors, it has already been shown that bacterial and viral contamination return rather quickly” (Pyrek, 2018, pp. 1). To help combat this issue, Nelson-Jameson carries several options for minimizing contamination from footwear including: Boot Scrubbers, Doorway Foamers, and Disinfectant Mats. These products are designed to be located at entryways of facilities to remind employees to clean and sanitize their shoes upon entry.

Cleaning and sanitizing surfaces is also an integral part of a sanitation program. Having the correct sanitizers for your processing facility can prevent the spread of microorganisms that cause foodborne illness. At Nelson-Jameson we have a full line of Alpet® Sanitizers that are both food contact and non-food contact approved for your facility.

Overall, this program is designed to aid in preparing your facility to be sanitized, but you can’t sanitize without cleaning first. It’s apparent that many individuals interchangeably use the terms cleaning and sanitizing, when in fact they are different. Cleaning is described as the physical removal of visible dirt, soil, food particles, grease, or allergens from equipment, utensils, or work surfaces. On the other hand, sanitizing reduces the number of harmful microorganisms from a cleaned surface. Cleaning must always come before sanitizing. If cleaning is skipped, the sanitizing process will be ineffective as oil, grease, and dust deactivate sanitizers. While these products are not guaranteed to remove all bacteria, they do bring the amount down to a safe level.

Start preparing your processing facility today—request or download our updated 12-page Footwear & Surface Sanitation Flyer. It contains an array of products to help make protecting your facility and products easier!

Sources:

Pyrek, K. M. (2018, October 31). Shoe Sole and Floor Contamination: A New Consideration in the Environmental Hygiene Challenge for Hospitals. Infection Control Today.      https://www.infectioncontroltoday.com/view/shoe-sole-and-floor-contamination-new-consideration-environmental-hygiene.

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Let’s Talk Turkey – Gobble Gobble

Thanksgiving is the holiday we are all familiar with that originated from when the Pilgrims celebrated their first successful harvest in America around the 1620’s. Today most families celebrate this holiday by spending time with family and expressing what they are most grateful for. For my family, one of our favorite traditions is watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and eating one of the largest meals that is prepared once a year for this holiday. This year, instead of the usual things we give thanks to, let’s focus on giving thanks to food safety and all of the work that goes into keeping the food we consume on Thanksgiving, safe.

According to the USDA, “in calls to the United States Department of Agriculture Meat and Poultry Hotline, turkey is the most often asked about food category by consumers” (Turkey from Farm to Table). So, let’s talk turkey and understand why taking cautious steps to preparing a turkey is important, and learn about what we need to do ourselves, as consumers, to finish preparing the turkey safely.

Turkeys are a “large, widely domesticated North American bird that are fed a diet of mainly corn and soybean meal with a supplement of vitamins and minerals. After being butchered, all turkeys found in retail stores are inspected for evidence of disease. For example, Salomnella Enteritidis is a common foodborne organism that can be found in the intestinal track of warm-blooded animals, such as turkeys” (Turkey from Farm to Table). This is why individuals need to air on the side of caution when preparing turkey, so it can be done properly.

Nelson-Jameson cares about your families safety, and that’s why we advocate eliminating the possibility of cross-contamination this holiday season. Here are some tips on how to safely handle and prepare turkey for Thanksgiving:

  1. If purchasing a frozen turkey, allow approximately 24 hours of thawing for every 4 to 5 pounds the turkey weighs. There are three ways you can thaw your turkey safely—in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in a microwave oven. Reminder to keep the turkey in its original wrapper and place it on a tray to catch any excess juices that may leak from the turkey (Let’s Talk Turkey, 2015).
  2. When roasting your turkey, set your oven temperature no lower than 325° F. Make sure to place your turkey on a rack in a shallow roasting pan (Let’s Talk Turkey, 2015).
  3. If the turkey has reached a safe minimum internal temperature of 165° F, it should be safe to eat. To get the most accurate measurement, measure the temperature with a food thermometer in the innermost part of the thigh and wing, and the thickest part of the breast (Let’s Talk Turkey, 2015).
  4. When storing leftovers, discard any turkey, stuffing, or gravy that has been left out at room temperature longer than 2 hours. Divide the leftovers into smaller portions, and refrigerate or freeze in covered shallow containers for quicker cooling. Use refrigerated turkey, stuffing, and gravy within 3 to 4 days, or use frozen leftovers within 2 to 6 months for best quality (Let’s Talk Turkey, 2015).

As we remember to be thankful for the things most important to us in our lives this year, follow these food safety tips, and you’ll give thanks for a happy, healthy and safe Thanksgiving.

 

Sources:

Let’s Talk Turkey—A Consumer Guide to Safely Roasting a Turkey. (2015, September 28). Retrieved November 24, 2020, from https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/poultry-preparation/lets-talk-turkey/CT_Index

Turkey from Farm to Table. (2013, August 05). Retrieved November 23, 2020, from https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/poultry-preparation/food-safety-of-turkeyfrom-farm-to-table/ct_index

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Deep Cleaning & Sanitation in Today’s Food Plant

According to the FDA, “one of the most commonly documented food safety problems in plants have involved sanitation monitoring, including checking food-contact surfaces and plant cleanliness” (Schug, para. 1). To make matters even more complicated, the
COVID-19 pandemic disrupted normal operations as well for countless food and beverage manufacturers. Disruptions may occur due to limited staff because of layoffs, social distancing requirements, or sickness. These situations on top of the normal expectations of having a clean food plant, can lead to the need of resources for food safety sanitation.

It is essential that food manufacturers create safe, quality food, therefore, routine practices need to continue, and additional sanitation protocols may need to be added. Employers also need to ensure a safe environment for their staff, including minimizing the risk of being exposed to harmful viruses and infections.

According to an article on cleaning and sanitation, “maintaining a clean and sanitary plant is essential in building and executing an effective food safety program” (Schug, para. 2).  A complete color-coded system is an example of a food safety program that will help promote organization and efficient work flow. 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. Color-coded systems also help avoid bacterial and allergen migration within a facility, allowing you to maintain a safe food processing facility.

Nelson-Jameson offers the most diverse and extensive collection of color-coded products in the industry. This includes products for material handling, product handling, janitorial, safety, apparel, QA/QC, and metal detectable applications. Laying the foundation for a solid food safety program, our color-coded offering can help minimize the risk of cross-contamination.

To get the best of both worlds, Nelson-Jameson also offers the benefits of color-coded and metal detectable products, another food safety program, in one. Produced from a specially formulated FDA-compliant material, these high impact polypropylene tools have the ability to be detected by most metal detection machines used in the food processing industry.

Take the next step in your sanitation program and add to your color-coded or metal detectable program to make it more effective today! Visit nelsonjameson.com to view or request a copy of our 56-page Color-Coded Catalog or our 32-page Metal Detectable Flyer.

 

Sources:

Schug, D. (2018, November 05). Cleaning and sanitation: The Building Blocks of Food Safety. Retrieved November 06, 2020, from https://www.profoodworld.com/home/article/13279193/cleaning-and-sanitation-the-building-blocks-of-food-safety

 

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