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As produce safety testing experts, PMA's Fresh Summit is one of our favorite events of the year. We've been proud PMA members and exhibitors for years now, and along the way, we've picked up a few tips on how to get the absolute most out of the show. Here's our top 20 tips to get the most out of this year's Fresh Summit in Anaheim, CA!
Hindsight is always 20/20. That’s the old saying anyway. Looking back and seeing things more clearly now than one might have when they were actually happening is normal for everyone. More often than not, one can take away a great learning experience from it. Some might even wish they could go back and tell themselves to be careful of a certain situation, or to do something a little bit better or even completely different from the way they did it the first time. This is the premise of my new series in which I’ve approached different people at ABC Research Laboratories and asked them to give me some examples of things they know now that they wish they knew years ago.
Almost one year ago, Produce Marketing Association (PMA) and the geniuses behind Sesame Street joined forces in an effort to promote healthy eating choices among America’s youth. Childhood obesity is a major problem in the U.S. whether we’d like to admit it or not. This collaborative initiative was prompted, in part, by First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move program. She has taken the health of America’s children to heart: “This is a passion. This is my mission. I am determined to work with folks across this country to change the way a generation of kids thinks about food and nutrition.” The program includes such things as developing healthy menus for schools and improving access to healthier foods for children.
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?”
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