Monthly Archives: March 2013

Here Comes the Sun

The food industry, in so many ways, is a product of the sun. The sun is a source of energy and growth for plants in the field and animals out to pasture. What if this same source at the heart of the food industry, could also power the operations of the food industry itself? The idea of harnessing the sun through solar power is nothing new; what is new is the more earnest ways in which companies of all kinds are exploring ways to implement and use solar power in everyday operations. Not just the concern of a few environmentally conscious companies, the use of alternative power sources is something that is gaining more attention across the food industry thanks to the demand for “green” products and the possible cost-savings that can come with a successful solar power program.

Conversely, the reality remains that solar energy programs are expensive and can be difficult to implement in the industrial sector. The use of solar energy is far from being widespread in the food industry at this point. With these challenges still very much in place, why is there this focus, by some food industry interests, on looking further into solar energy?

Achieving some level of energy independence is one of the key reasons why industry interests are pursuing solar power. Whole Foods, for instance, utilizes solar power as a supplement to their wind power credit purchase. The company considers cost-saving concerns along with environmental concerns as both important factors in utilizing solar power. As their site states, a successfully implemented solar installation can: “Produce and save more than 2.2 million kilowatt hours over 20 years,” “Result in more than 1,650 tons of CO2 emissions avoided, the equivalent of removing 440 cars from the roadways,” and “Reduce the impact on our country’s power grids.”

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Food Industry Resource Can Help Fight Food Fraud

magFood fraud has garnered a good deal of industry, consumer, and government attention in the past few weeks. Recent focus on the European horsemeat scandal and the mislabeling of seafood in the United States has left many with a sense of doubt, from the farm to the table.

As stakeholders in the food industry, companies of many varieties are looking a bit closer now at all ingredients and products coming into their respective operations. Due to this growing concern, the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) has also recently garnered a great deal of attention. The USP, for those not familiar, is: “is a scientific nonprofit organization that sets standards for the identity, strength, quality, and purity of medicines, food ingredients, and dietary supplements manufactured, distributed and consumed worldwide.”

Their site features a “Food Fraud Database” that was created to act, “as a repository for food ingredient fraud reports and associated analytical detection methods.” The database features an easy-to-use search function that can search for adulterants and specific ingredients. USP describes that the database is of use to many levels of food-industry interest, including: “parties responsible for assessing existing and emerging risks and trends for economically motivated adulteration, authenticity, fraud, or counterfeiting issues for food ingredients.

Beyond listing food fraud adulterants, the database provides a baseline understanding of the susceptibility or vulnerability of individual ingredients to fraud. In addition, it can be useful for those managing the risk of food fraud by providing a library of detection methods reported in peer-reviewed scientific journals.   You can learn more about the USP by clicking on any of the links above. Click here to access the database.

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Food Safety Summit Expo & Conference

FoodSafetySummitApril 30th through May 2nd may be a few days worth paying attention to if food safety is on your mind.   The Food Safety Summit Expo & Conference will be held this year at the Baltimore Convention Center. The 2013 program offers numerous talks, panels, presentations, displays, and training sessions focused on food safety.

This year’s keynote address will come from Will Daniels, Sr. Vice President, Operations and Organic Integrity of Earthbound Farm, and will take on the issue of facilitating collaboration between academic institutions, businesses, and governmental interests. Panels will focus on a host of topics including: traceability, social media, allergen control, liability issues, addressing Listeria, amongst many other concerns. In the Exhibition Hall various exhibitors and exhibitor showcases will be featured May 1st through the 2nd. Training sessions this year include HACCP training, ServSafe® certification, and a chance to check out the new Food Defense Plan Builder by the FDA.

For a full conference brochure click here. For registration and packages available click here.

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Seeking Feedback: The FDA and Product Tracing

The Food Safety Modernization Act continues to spur discussion and debate among various interests. Recently, results on several trials concerning product tracing in the food supply were released by the FDA. The FDA utilized numerous different stakeholders, including several private sector firms that volunteered for the process. This initial round of tracing activities was focused on foods associated with foodborne illness, including tomatoes as well as: “chicken/peanuts/spices in processed foods.”

The findings potentially have the ability to change the way that the FDA conducts investigations, and it could: “affect how industry interacts with the Agency to provide product tracing information.” Public comment is welcome at this point on the findings. At this juncture the following recommendations have been made as presented below, in the “Executive Summary” (and can be accessed, along with the entire final report here):

  1. “ From an overarching perspective, IFT recommends that FDA establish a uniform set of recordkeeping requirements for all FDA-regulated foods and not permit exemptions to recordkeeping requirements based on risk classification.
  2. FDA should require firms that manufacture, process, pack, transport, distribute, receive, hold, or import food to identify and maintain records of CTEs and KDEs as determined by FDA.
  3. Each member of the food supply chain should be required to develop, document, and exercise a product tracing plan.
  4. FDA should encourage current industry-led initiatives and issue an Advance Notice of Proposed  Rulemaking or use other similar mechanisms to seek stakeholder input.
  5. FDA should clearly and more consistently articulate and communicate to industry the information it needs to conduct product tracing investigations.
  6. FDA should develop standardized electronic mechanisms for the reporting and acquiring of CTEs and KDEs during product tracing investigations.
  7. FDA should accept summarized CTE and KDE data that are submitted through standardized reporting mechanisms and initiate investigations based on such data.
  8. If available, FDA should request more than one level of tracing data.
  9. FDA should consider adopting a technology platform that would allow efficient aggregation and analysis of data submitted in response to a request from regulatory officials. The technology platform should be accessible to other regulatory entities.
  10. FDA should coordinate traceback investigations and develop response protocols between state and local health and regulatory agencies, using existing commissioning and credentialing processes. In addition, FDA should formalize the use of industry subject matter experts in product tracing investigations.”

To find out how to comment on the report or on the above recommendations visit this site.

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Tech Tip: Choosing the Proper Lubricant for Pumps & Valves

EPDM is the standard elastomer on many pumps and valves and is not compatible with petroleum-based products. Using lubricants such as the popular Petro-Gel in these applications is not a good choice as it will degrade your equipment elastomers and decrease the life of your parts.

Due to the high melting point, Petro-Gel and similar non-CIP lubricants have the potential to contaminate your product with bacteria such as Listeria. Petro-Gel has a melting point of 190°F, and typical CIP cycles are only 160-180°F, meaning the residue will not melt and clean away. If a spare part somehow came in contact with bacteria, the high melting point of these non-CIP lubricants would function to protect the bacteria during the CIP cycle and could contaminate your products!

To lubricate your EPDM pump and valve parts, use Haynes or McGlaughlin CIP films (312-2020 or 435-2005). With melting points of 120°F, they will wash away completely during your CIP cycle.

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