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Are you being too nice to your suppliers?

trustandverification2 copy

“Trust and verification” is one of the main tenants in our industry. This applies directly to how we interact with our suppliers. Set up the relationship by sharing your requirements and develop solid product specifications with them – and then make the product accordingly.  That’s the “Trust” part. Now, what’s the best way to “Verify”?  No need to re-invent the wheel here - a Product Specification Compliance (PSC) program is the best-practice tool in your QA/FS programs. See my previous post for details.

Here’s where I want to insert a key consideration to implementing a successful PSC program. Your PSC program will be stronger and drive more positive action if it is set up to reward suppliers who perform well.  By reward suppliers, I mean reduce their testing frequency. At first you test at a frequent schedule, but you begin to trust more as the supplier’s product meets the product specification and you verify less. This saves them money on testing, products, and shipping. Communicate this upfront, early and often, and suppliers will be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel from the beginning.


The secret to a best practices food QA/FS Program

QAbestpractices's the secret and it's for your eyes only! OK, I have a confession to make.  I know the framework to create a best practice Quality Assurance and Food Safety Program.  And, guess what? I am going to share it with you now!

At a high level, there are 6 steps to develop and implement a best-practice Quality Assurance and Food Safety Program to ensure compliance to the action that drive Brand Protection.  This applies to all areas within our responsibility – including working with suppliers and verifying product compliance to the product specification.

The Structure of Every QA and FS Program should be built on these 6 steps:

$500 Center for Produce Safety Research Travel Grant is Back!

Produce Safety Travel Grant

Hey, produce safety scholars! We're proud to be partnering once again with the Center for Produce Safety for the ABC Research Travel Grant. Check out our release below. If you, or someone you know, is actively researching to make the world of produce a safer place, this is just the event for them! 

Piglet Death and the Shrinking Wallet

Pork Price Spike

Listen up all you bacon, ham and pork chop lovers. If you have recently purchased any pork products and noticed a big price increase then I am here to provide some insight. The pork industry is being challenged by a virus never seen before in the U.S. which has killed millions of baby pigs in less than one year. Porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) is ravaging the pig supply and there appears to be no end in sight. The virus has unknown origins and even less is known how to stop it. The virus has spread to 27 states since last May and has seriously affected pork production and commodity prices.

Food Processing Facilities Demand Durable Labels During Chemical Washdown Procedures

Durable Labels for Food Processing

By Jack Rubinger,,

From production to processing, food industry managers rely on chemical washdown processes to eliminate bacteria. Using a pressure washer, plant workers spray down equipment from a distance of about 6-8 inches at about 1000 gallons a minute with a variety of chemicals to both clean and sanitize equipment.

Washdown areas in the food industry are among the most difficult areas to maintain OSHA compliance for food handling (1910.141(h)) because bacteria can be found in almost any food handling scenario. The standard specifies that, “In all places of employment where all or part of the food service is provided, the food dispensed shall be wholesome, free from spoilage, and shall be processed, prepared, handled, and stored in such a manner as to be protected against contamination.”

¿Pueden Tus Alimentos Causar Esclerosis Múltiple?


 (English version of this article here.) Actualmente miles de compañías intentan descubrir la cura a un sin número de enfermedades que afectan a los humanos. Los investigadores buscan a fondo componentes y mecanismos accionables cuyas propiedades lleven a la creación de un nuevo medicamento. Sin duda alguna, el cuerpo humano es mecanismo brillante pero no es perfecto y todos somos susceptibles a problemas de salud infortunados. Las enfermedades y otras condiciones médicas pueden ser iniciadas por varias razones pero es paradójico pensar que los alimentos que consumimos pudiesen ser un factor. Investigaciones recientes sugieren lo contrario y las bacterias comúnmente  procedentes de alimentos pueden estar ligadas a la enfermedad Esclerosis Múltiple.

Does Soy Milk Make Men Less 'Manly?'


When I first started writing blogs for ABC Research, I reached out to friends and family to see if there were any food safety related subjects in particular about which they’d like to read. The answers I got ran the gamut of possibilities; from the recent news about Subway bread to why Doritos gouge the insides of our mouths (I told them trying to swallow the chips whole is probably a primary factor). One, however, stood out: soy making men less… manly. At first this made me chuckle, but I thought stranger things have been known to happen. So I looked into it.

The primary reason this has people concerned is that soy contains a high level of antioxidants known as phytoestrogens. That’s right: estrogen. As in “the opposite of testosterone.” Estrogen = female. Testosterone = male. The important difference is that “phyto” means plant, so it’s a different form of estrogen and should have little to no affect on the human body. “Should” is the key word here. I say that because there are schools of thought that the phytoestrogens in soy are so similar to the hormone that the human body can get thrown off by its presence and consider it actual estrogen. This has yet to be proven, however.

The Cheesiest Food Jokes Ever


While working in food science, we hear a lot of food related jokes. Some are really clever, however this post is a compilation of the cheesiest (pardon the pun) jokes we've come across in the food world. We apologize for not having many vegetable jokes, if you know of any be sure to lettuce know!

SENA14: FSMA & Imported Seafood


This article was written by Richard Auffrey during Seafood Expo North America. Auffrey won the "FDA, FSMA, & Imported Seafood Safety" blogging award featured by ABC Research in a co-effort with iPura and Global Aquaculture Alliance. His article is reprinted here with his kind permission. For the original article, or to subscribe to his blog (which we highly recommend), click here.

From contaminated hamburger to tainted lettuce, we have all seen the massive recalls in the news, with millions of pounds of product taken off the shelves. A significant number of us have been inflicted with a bout of food poisoning at some point in our lives. Though for most of us this is merely an unpleasant experience, it can be deadly for some, including some of our most vulnerable, such as the elderly. Food safety is an essential concern, one that impacts the entire world.

But who is primarily responsible for food safety? In an article, The Ethics of Food Safety in the Twenty-First Century, by Jeffrey Burkhardt, a Professor of Agriculture & Natural Resource Ethics and Policy at the Institute of Food & Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida, it states that "Although individuals and personal entities have a role to play in ensuring a safe and secure food system, governments are the primary agents to secure, or 'keep,' this public good." This is due, in large part, to the great complexity of the international food chain, where much of it is out of the hands of the average consumer. Most of the problems with food safety globally are associated with bacterial/viral contamination or spoilage but other hazards exist as well such as pesticides, industrial chemicals, and foreign material like waste. 

As many police makers seem to be in agreement with Burkhardt, the U.S. government recently took a major step in efforts to increase food safety. On January 4, 2011, President Barack Obama signed the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) into law, what many consider one of the most significant reforms of food safety since the 1930s. Previously, the focus of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had been geared much more to handling problems once they arose, but with this new law, there was a shift in focus to greater prevention.

The new law also granted the FDA greater powers and authority, along with greater responsibility, including in reporting requirements. The comprehensive law deals with imported and domestically raised foods of all sorts, including seafood. However, many elements of the law are still in flux as aspects are still being fine tuned by the FDA. In some areas, the deadline for the comment period is still sometime in the future, so those parts of the law have not yet been set. It is almost as if they passed a law which really can't do anything yet. 

What is the extent of food-borne illnesses, especially from seafood? According to a 2011 reportfrom the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), it is estimated "that each year roughly 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) gets sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases." The most common pathogen leading to illness is the norovirus (making up about 58%), followed by salmonella (at 11%). There is also a fascinating study conducted by the CDC, using data from 1998-2008, that estimated 1451 deaths from 17 different food commodities. When this total was broken down, 278 of those deaths were attributable to poultry, 240 from vegetables, 140 from meat and only 94 from seafood. That at least indicates the seafood industry is less lethal than other food industries, though it doesn't indicate the extent of sickness that might be caused from tainted seafood.

Seafood Fraud Has Consumers Hooked


This past week I had the pleasure of attending the International Seafood Show in Boston. One of the many topics discussed was the widespread fraud within the seafood industry. Seafood is one of the most popular foods eaten in the U.S. but roughly 90% of the seafood consumed in this country is imported. This is where the problem starts. Recent testing and sampling has proven that roughly 50% of seafood sold in retail outlets was sold as mislabeled fish. Red snapper, one of the most popular dining choices in the country showed a 90% mislabeled rate and tuna showed a 50% mislabeled rate. This proves that consumers have no idea of what they are eating. If we trust that the fish on our dinner plate is safe, legally caught, and honestly labeled then there is a good chance we are being hoodwinked! It has become a common practice to disguise species that are less desirable, cheaper or more readily available.

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