Steps Toward Better Food Safety

August 1, 2007

4 Min Read
Steps Toward Better Food Safety

Inspections alone won’t stop foodborne illness outbreaks. According to a recent Quarterly Quality Report from the American Society for Quality (ASQ), Milwaukee, prevention is the key to food safety. Quality-control systems, such as HACCP programs and Good Manufacturing Practices, go a long way in reducing the hazards in food production, the report says.

The following “high-impact actions” are also recommended:

  • Reinforce maintenance procedures: Constant reinforcement of personnel training and hygiene practices, cleaning sanitation and maintenance, effective recall programs, and provisions for safe water supply and product handling are all essential.

  • Emphasize consumer education: Improper food handling at home and at retail food establishments accounts for more reported cases of foodborne illness than does failure at the processing level.

  • Strengthen regulatory agencies in high-risk areas: In today’s world, where deliberate contamination of food is a very real threat, it’s important for our nation’s regulatory agencies to increase protections against this type of potential disaster, as well as accidental contamination.

  • Increased diligence by food companies: The recent sickening of pets from toxic ingredients blended into pet foods was more a failure of corporate supplier quality programs than a failure of regulatory systems.

  • More-effective inspection, not more inspection: Inspection resources are limited and need to be targeted where they are needed most. Food producers and processors—domestic and foreign—that don’t comply with federal standards, and those dealing with higher-risk food, should receive closer evaluation.

The report also notes the growing demand for ready-to-eat fresh fruit and vegetables increases pressure to ensure the safety of produce, from farm to fork. To that end, this summer FDA implemented a multiyear Tomato Safety Initiative to reduce the incidence of tomato-related foodborne illness in the United States. The initiative will evaluate the need for additional produce safety research, education and outreach; continue outreach with industry at all points in the supply chain; facilitate and promote research on tomato safety; communicate early and often in the event of an outbreak; and continue to build and strengthen collaborative relationships with federal, state and local public health officials in disease prevention, detection and outbreak response. This, like the 2006 Leafy Greens Initiative developed in response to E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks associated with fresh and fresh-cut lettuce, is part of FDA’s Produce Safety Action Plan.

Also released this summer, the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition’s Report to Stakeholders outlines program priorities in the areas of food defense, food safety, nutrition and labeling, and dietary supplements and activities, as well as ongoing priorities.

INDUSTRY NEWS

Almond Pasteurization

Beginning Sept. 1, 2007, all almonds must be pasteurized before sale to North American consumers. The food-safety action plan, initiated by the Almond Board of California, Modesto, CA, in collaboration with USDA, applies to all food manufacturers using almonds as an ingredient.

NRA Breaks Records

The National Restaurant Association’s 2007 Restaurant, Hotel- Motel Show completed a four-day run at McCormick Place, Chicago, on May 22, drawing nearly 74,000 attendees from all 50 states and 110 countries and a record breaking 2,142 exhibitors.

Emulsifier Goes GRAS

TIC Gums, Belcamp, MD, has claimed self-affirmed GRAS status for a line of modified gum acacia emulsifiers, permitting use of the emulsifier in a variety of foods and beverages.

SUPPLIER NEWS

DSM Expands to China

DSM, Delft, the Netherlands, announced the opening of a new, state-of-the-art process flavors plant in Xinghuo, China. The facility will double the company’s production capacity.

BI Nutraceuticals in China

BI Nutraceuticals, Long Beach, CA, opened a 75,000-sq.-ft. manufacturing facility in Suzhou, China, which will provide additional manufacturing capacity, as well as a full-service quality-assurance lab to test all extracts and ingredients purchased in the region.

Hale Acquires MVS

The Hale Group, Danvers, MA, acquired Mount Vernon Strategies (MVS), Boston. MVS specializes in marketing research and strategic consulting services.

Fortitech Partners With Pakistan

The Pakistan Ministry of Health, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, awarded Fortitech Asia Pacific, Shanghai, China, the contract to manufacture and supply the vitamin and mineral premix for its National Wheat Flour Fortification Program. This is the first large-scale national wheat fortification program that adheres to the recently published World Health Organization recommendation to fortify whole-grain flour with the highly bioavailable iron source, FeNaEDTA. The company will partner with Akzo Nobel, Arnhem, the Netherlands, manufacturer of the iron source, Ferrazone® XF.

Sorbates and Lecithin Price Hikes

Nutrinova, Kronberg, Germany, the food ingredients business of Celanese, increased the price of its sorbate products by an average of 10%, effective June 18, 2007, or as contracts allow. Effective Aug. 1, 2007, ADM, Decatur, IL, increased the list price of its lecithin products $0.05 per pound on average. 

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