Category: Safety & Personnel

“Eek-osystems”: Biofilm Considerations for the Food Industry

Have you ever missed one or two of your normal tooth-brushing sessions, and found your tongue traversing over a disconcertingly slimy layer coating your chompers?   Well, welcome to the disturbing and quite fascinating world of biofilms.  These hearty amalgams of microbiological activity provide both protection for microorganisms, as well as headaches for not only those avoiding plaque build-up, but most importantly for this blog, the food industry (allowing harborage and protection for bacteria and fungi).

Biofilms can form on a variety of surfaces in food processing environments, including stainless steel.  A supercell of harborage, “Biofilms are complex microbial ecosystems formed by one or more species immersed in an extracellular matrix of different compositions depending on the type of food manufacturing environment and the colonizing species” (Geaile, et al).   The “matrix” formed creates a powerful source of protection and fuel for the continued life and shear tenacity of these “eek-osystems”  to affect, disrupt, and harm products.     

Though biofilms are capable of creating a lot of hassle when it comes to cleaning, spoilage concerns, etc., Gaile, et al, in  “Biofilms in the Food Industry: Health Aspects and Control Methods” note:  “Of particular importance to the food industry is that some biofilm-forming species in food factory environments are human pathogens.”  With biofilms aiding and abetting pathogens, the cost of not waging an effective sanitation onslaught, may create food safety issues of serious proportions.   This is even further complicated by the fact that, “Mixed biofilms show higher resistance to disinfectants such as quaternary ammonium compounds and other biocides” (Gealie, et al.).   This means traditional cleaning protocols may not be enough to counter the threat biofilms pose to public health.

Here at Nelson-Jameson, we continue to work with our supplier-partners to take on the threat of biofilms in the food industry.   Our hope is that through a multi-pronged approach, we can help address this serious concern for our customers.  Here are just a few of the ways we are taking on the challenges of biofilms currently:

  1. Providing effective and efficient cleaning solutions, like hygienic brushes and squeegees from Remco and Carlisle, to cleaning chemical options from Hydrite, Kersia, and Best Sanitizers.  
  2.  Formulating and offering the best enzymatic cleaning solutions with Realzyme.
  3. Offering the best in testing solutions, including 3M Petrifilm and ATP testing equipment, as well as offering sampling collection/sample integrity products from Whirl-Pak and QualiTru.   

Though continuing to be a tough challenge for the food industry, biofilms will squarely be in the crosshairs of our team and our supplier partners.  Together, across the industry, we can seek out effective solutions, and build tailored programs to take on the challenge and the tenacity of biofilms in the production environment.   For an excellent resource on biofilms please be sure to consult the Gealie et al. article referenced above, here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5949339/.

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Celebrating World Food Safety Day!

Food safety truly is a collective effort. From the farm to the table, ensuring food safety is a way we can reaffirm our investment in, and care of, those we are feeding. Whether you are helping in the harvest, producing and processing thousands of products a day, serving food at a local pub, or grilling for your family, food safety requires vigilance and care at all levels. Keeping this in mind, the World Health Organization, in collaboration with the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, are recognizing all of those interconnecting players with World Food Safety Day on June 7th.   

The celebration of World Food Safety Day is meant “to draw attention and inspire action to help prevent, detect and manage foodborne risks, contributing to food security, human health, economic prosperity, agriculture, market access, tourism and sustainable development.” When one considers how food plays into all of these areas, and reverberates across everyday life, food safety really does bind us all together.  

….and there is work to do. Though we are incredibly fortunate to have a robust and generally safe food supply, foodborne illness is a very real threat, demanding care and continued dedication. According to the WHO, “more than 600 million people fall ill and 420,000 die every year from eating food contaminated with bacteria, viruses, parasites, toxins or chemicals. As for the economic price tag, according to the World Bank, unsafe food costs low-and middle-income economies alone about US$ 95 billion in lost productivity annually.”  

At Nelson-Jameson, we are proud to recognize and celebrate World Food Safety Day. Our main goal is to help our customers produce the safest and best product they can.  Every product, service, and program we offer are all designed to contribute and build up cultures of food safety 365 days a year. We are committed to working with you and the vast array of stakeholders in ensuring a safe food supply…through teamwork we can take on the challenge and together celebrate the continued path towards food safety excellence around the world.   

 

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Preventing Illness in the Workplace

The flu season is upon us. Illness in the workplace can cause major problems—missed deadlines, lost productivity, and therefore lost profit. When at work, we are in close proximity with our co-workers which encourages the spread of germs. Employers play an important role in preventing the spread of illness and ensuring employees stay healthy and productive. Here are a few tips to avoid an illness epidemic at your workplace:

  • Handwashing. It seems elementary, but proper handwashing is the easiest way to prevent the spread of germs. The best practice is to scrub hands under water for 20 seconds. Post signage and reminders for employees to regularly wash their hands.
  • Sanitizing. Hand sanitizer is a great alternative when hand washing isn’t available. Encourage employees to regularly utilize hand sanitizer, especially when leaving a work space. Provide sanitizers all throughout the workplace for easy accessibility and usage.
  • Supplies. Make sure the workplace is stocked with sanitizers, paper towels, tissues, soap, and wipes. Our desks are some of the dirtiest places in the workplace. Make sure employees are equipped with the necessary cleaning supplies to wipe down their desk, keyboard, phone, and work surface. Discourage sharing of office supplies and pens during flu season. 
  • Sick Day Policy. Make sure employees are aware of the company sick day policy. If a sick employee comes to work, the spread of germs can be rampant. Encourage employees to stay home if they are sick. Employees may be hesitant to stay home because they need to get work done. Providing the option for ill employees to work from home can help to prevent the hesitation to stay home.
  • Plan Ahead. Anticipate that sick days will happen. In order to plan ahead, cross-train employees to be able to cover for each other if someone is at home sick. Encourage employees who feel themselves getting sick to avoid close contact with others in break rooms or meetings.
  • Flu Shot. Offer on-site flu vaccinations or provide information on community flu shot locations to encourage employees to prevent the flu at the beginning of the season.

There are many free materials available to educate employees on the dangers of workplace illness. Preventing an outbreak is much easier than reacting to one. The CDC offers great materials to print and distribute throughout the workplace. Download here: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/resource-center/freeresources/print/print-businesses.htm


October is National Protect Your Hearing Month

Did you know that hearing loss is the third most common chronic health condition in the United States? Almost twice as many people report hearing loss as report diabetes or cancer. Unfortunately, there is no treatment for hearing loss—Damaged inner ear cells do not grow back. Take care of your hearing by protecting your ears from permanent damage. Always wear hearing protection when around sounds louder than 85 dB for an extended period of time. Hearing loss can affect your safety on the job, and decrease your quality of life.

From disposable and reusable earplugs, to semi-aural hearing protection and earmuffs—we have what you need to protect your hearing, and if you already have hearing loss, take steps to keep it from getting worse. 

Nelson-Jameson also offers a wide variety of products available for personnel protection. Ask about our eye, head and face, and respiratory products. We also feature ergonomic products to help support your back, wrists, elbows, knees and ankles.

Contact us today to discuss what products we carry to help keep your plant’s workforce healthy and productive.

Source: cdc.gov

 

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Feeling in the Dark About High-Visibility Clothing Standards?

The need to be seen is critical for employee safety, especially for those who work around moving vehicles and equipment. This is why we have a wide range of high-visibility apparel that meets the ANSI/ISEA 107-2015 Standard.

Take a look at our high-visibility products here!

The ANSI/ISEA 107-2015 standard provides a uniform, authoritative guide for the design, performance specifications, and use of high-visibility and reflective apparel, including safety vests, shirts, pants, and outerwear. The standard breaks down high-visibility apparel into Types and Performance Classes. The environment in which the worker is wearing the garment dictates the type selected, while the performance classes provide a range of design options that correspond with the level of risk, and the certified high-visibility material and certified reflective tape needs of the wearer. To learn more about the breakdown of Types and Performance Classes, review the chart on our Learning Center.

Interested in additional products to keep employees safe?
Request a copy of our Safety & PPE Catalog, which features a complete line of personal protective equipment and facility safety products for the food industry.

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