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Many food manufacturers will attest that one does not want to mess around when it comes to dealing with the FDA. The Food and Drug Administration regulates all things food (and drug) in the US except commodities covered by the USDA like meat, poultry, and shell eggs. The FDA drafts guidance documents, publishes regulations, and polices compliance with these regulations. These regulations cover most food produced in the US that enters knowingly or unknowingly into interstate commerce. In other words, the FDA and USDA are here to protect our food supply and they expect conformance to regulations and guidances. Period.
reach.There is so much information out there in regards to the microbiological and chemistry requirements for food testing. How does anyone keep track of it all? I do not have a background in food safety and I’m constantly learning. I can’t imagine what it would take to familiarize myself with the actual methods and test requirements that our scientists and technicians already know so well. Ok. Sure. It would take at least four years of education. As smart as these folks are, however, they probably need a refresher from time to time. That’s where those books and resources I mentioned come in handy. I asked around the lab and here are some of the more important books our team recommends for anyone who is in the food safety field; be it in a quality assurance or management position.
Being in constant contact with our clients, I cannot tell you how many times we’ve had calls from people asking when their results will be ready. For clients who use us for microbiological tests of their food products, more often than not, if it has been more than three days, chances are the client requested a standard yeast and mold test. This test takes five full days to complete using the standard agar method. The rest of the tests are ready, but we can’t complete the formal report until that particular test is finished. Since ABC Research always endeavors to be at the forefront of food safety testing and have our clients’ best interests at the heart of everything we do, we are proud to introduce a Rapid Yeast & Mold (RYM) test courtesy of 3M. This test offers new technology that produces easier to interpret colonies in just 48 hours compared to 5 days. That’s a huge difference, especially for our clients who need their results as soon as possible.
According to our Managing Director of Microbiology, Guy McWhorter, “This test is suitable for nearly all food and environmental samples that do not contain concentrated levels of dyes or pigments, as these dark colors may interfere with interpretation. For those specific product types, traditional agar methods would be recommended.”
We are thrilled to announce that we have successfully expanded our ISO 17025 accreditation in our chemistry laboratory in the following areas:
A recently released FDA article warned consumers about an ingredient in some gluten-free foods. This ingredient is considered and allergen but it is not widely known here in the United States.If you manufacture gluten-free foods, you should take this very seriously. The name of the ingredient is lupin which is used to make gluten-free flour. The issue is that lupin (or lupine) is from the plant family legume; the same family as the peanut. As such, allergic reactions to lupin can be similar to those of peanuts and potentially just as severe. You can read the full article here.
Gluten-free foods are very popular and many manufacturers are producing variants of their product to meet this demand. They should still, however, be wary of the hazards new ingredients could be to their customers. Even though lupin allergies are not as common as others, the risk still exists and needs to be addressed.
Today I’d like to address how food safety culture has changed over the last 30 years. We have gone from back of the house protocols that were more like out house protocols to a transparent world of Instagram and The Food Network. Oh how times have changed for restaurant operators and the food industry in general.
About 6 years ago, The Peanut Corporation of America was cited for poor manufacturing conditions after an investigation of a multi-state Salmonella outbreak was determined to have been caused by their peanut butter product. Well, they’re back in the news again. This time, their corporate officials are being brought up on federal charges whether they had direct knowledge about the alleged wrong-doings or not, which is allowable under the Park Doctrine (taken from a Supreme Court ruling in 1975). Believe it or not, this is the first time in the Doctrine’s history that this has ever happened. Even though PCA is no longer in operation, the after-effects of their alleged neglect keep popping back up. Those involved have to be thinking to themselves, “Will this nightmare ever go away?”
All food manufacturers - those new to the industry and those that have been the game for a very long time - come to a point when they’ll need to have their product(s) tested for one of a hundred different reasons. It may be that they need a Process Authority Letter, a nutritional label, or simply to see if their product is gluten free. The major players out there, the big dogs, have their own labs to do this type of thing, but a great many manufacturers do not. They have to go to third party labs to help them out and that’s where labs like ABC Research come into the picture. And like almost everything else in any marketplace, there are several labs from which manufacturers can choose. Much like the many different types of food manufacturers, there are also several different types of labs out there of various sizes and capabilities. We, of course, would like for food manufacturers to choose us when their food safety testing needs arise. So would every other lab out there. This ultimately begs the question that all manufacturers will eventually have to ask: “Which lab should I trust to test our product?” or, in other words, “Is ABC Research a good fit for my company?”
It's no secret that partnering with an independent, third party ISO 17025 accredited laboratory is one of the smartest ways a food company can protect its brand. But did you know having a go-to lab can also be one of your greatest resources when facing an FDA detention? Here's five ways having a relationship with a third party lab can ease some major food import headaches:
Several years ago I visited with many chief executives of some of the major poultry companies in the U.S. and the outlook was dire. The cost of corn due to drought and ethanol production forced several players into bankruptcy. It was so bad that many producers wanted to sever relations with their suppliers, but that would be the kiss of death. Often, when vertically integrated suppliers are lost they do not return. But, over the last year or so, the outlook for the poultry industry has brightened considerably. Feed costs have come down and the supply has tightened. I have written before about the state of both the beef and pork industry. The beef herd is the smallest in 60 years and beef prices are at historic highs. Millions of piglets are dying due to PEDv causing pork prices to skyrocket.
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