Getting your manufacturing operation up to speed with the tremendous transformation happening in the food safety arena requires an authentic shift in mindset and approach. It means adopting a more proactive, preventative plan to address the danger of pathogens. To minimize risk and meet rigorous FSMA requirements, you need a strong environmental monitoring program (EMP) in place. Unfortunately, not all EMPs are created and run the same way, and therefore don’t provide the same amount of protection and risk management! It’s critical to step up and strengthen you EMP, and do it in a way that is specific to the food you produce and will fit your unique facility best. Not sure what to look for?
The recall process in the food manufacturing industry is a highly stressful and expensive one, not to mention the irreparable damage that can be done to your brand. The public has become much more informed and discerning when it comes to food safety issues, which means you must be implementing the most careful processes to prevent contamination in your products. A crucial component of these efforts is having an effective food supplier verification program in place.
Use this checklist to help avoid Tens of Millions in damage costs, severe brand equity loss, and unexpected food audits.
The FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is rolling out to companies large and small, and with the new compliance mandates comes greater responsibility on the part of food processors and manufacturers. It’s big news in the industry, and hopefully you’ve implemented the requisite plans and procedures to meet the evolving demands of proactive food safety. But does FSMA compliance mean you’ve significantly lowered the risk of a food recall?
The very thought of a food safety audit is enough to make a plant manager shudder. It’s often a dreaded ordeal requiring lots of time and effort. Plus, there’s the stress of making sure your audit successfully reflects all the work you’ve done to prevent contamination in the plant. But there’s no getting around audits, and with new FSMA rules being implemented, you should prepare to deal with them much more frequently. But here’s the silver lining -- you CAN significantly reduce the hours and headaches that go into preparing for an audit and increase your success rate. But, to do this seemlessly, you must take advantage of a well-matched software tool. Here are three prime reasons why food safety software can make your audit process significantly easier.
2016 saw a 22% food recall surge over the previous year, reaching approximately 764 total recalls in the U.S. and Canada, or more than 2 per day, according to research by Food Safety Magazine. It’s true that recalls are happening more frequently today than ever before, for reasons including stricter compliance regulations and ramped-up testing approaches. This stronger focus on testing has positively led to a greater discovery rate of contamination. This is actually a good thing because it means today’s food safety efforts are much more accurate and effective at identifying contamination and protecting the population. Nonetheless, recalls can be alarming to your customers, and the last thing you want to risk is their trust in your brand.
All along the food chain -- from producers and processors to retailers and consumers -- safety risks exist. Food is susceptible to contamination at many points in its journey. For food processing plants, this means it is necessary to establish and maintain strict, proactive practices for safe food production and handling. But, ultimately, who’s in charge of this effort? Where does responsibility for food safety risk management reside?
Every food processors knows that you must have a contamination response plan in place. However the real question is about whether or not your plan is an effective one! After all, you have a lot at stake here. If your plan is lacking, you open your brand, your organization and yourself up to all kinds of serious consequences: FDA audits, costly recalls, reputational damage, consumer deaths, criminal charges. Failing to implement a well thought out contamination plan can quite literally kill your company. Is that a risk you’re willing to take?
Food safety rules and regulations are undergoing a big, tectonic shift. Most recently, manufacturers have had to adapt to these new mandates introduced by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). These laws turn the focus from reactive food safety measures to proactive and preventive approaches. What does this mean for the manufacturer? It means adjusting processes and procedures in order to comply with various requirements for monitoring, testing, documentation, risk assessment and more. Regardless of the size of your operation, all of these food safety changes can be overwhelming, and you may feel like it’s impossible for the plant to keep up.
Now that the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is the law of the land, it is essential for food processing plants to have plans and procedures in place that fully comply with the new rules and regulations. Even if your plant is already meeting basic FDA regulations, there’s more you must do in order to avoid noncompliance, protect your brand and meet the evolving demands of food safety.
It’s no secret to anyone in the food and beverage industry that an outbreak can cost an average of $10 million in damages. So why are food manufacturers still reacting AFTER something happens instead of preventing BEFORE a situation runs out of control? It’s beyond vital that plant managers not only have an appropriate corrective action plan for handling positive test results on finished product, but it’s equally if not more important to have strong preventative measures in place to catch pathogens in the production environment BEFORE they enter the product and worst of all BEFORE they leave the facility!
Food safety practitioners have been forced to wait until they can react to results from environmental testing programs (EMPs) for years. The current process of testing for pathogens and bacteria in your food manufacturing plant can often take up to 48 – 72 hours under good conditions. You collect samples, send them to the lab and wait for the results. If your lab doesn’t have a robust reporting workflow, you might wait longer even than it takes to run the testing! So while you’re waiting for those results, your company’s risk exposure grows and grows, a very clear and present danger of possibly ruining your brand. It’s no secret that hundreds of companies have been under scrutiny in recent years due to very public recalls. Is this reactionary approach still working for you? Did it ever? And is your plant really as clean as it looks? More often than not, if you are not getting positive results, you aren’t looking hard enough!
Here at Sample6, we know the holidays are the most wonderful time of the year. Which is why we want to make sure everyone is practicing safe baking when preparing holiday food! Follow along in the below steps for four easy food safety baking tips.
why is in-shift data important? Right now, food processors don’t have the ability to properly respond in shift because they don’t receive the data until the next day or later if they’re using traditional test methods. Therefore your corrective actions are lagging the incident by 24-48 hours. Why is this important? A “hot spot” may migrate in the normal course of producing food due to a variety of factors such as foot traffic, product flow, sanitation (that isn’t seeking out to clean this particular hotspot) etc.
We are all aware that communication is one of the most important aspects of a successful relationship. This statement is especially true when it comes to managing the food safety challenges in a food and beverage manufacturing plant. With the right tools communication and collaboration can be easy.
Our approach is three-fold: First and foremost, we protect your brand! Second, we help you comply with existing and new rules and regulations! Third, we reduce your risk while producing food and serving customers!
“Many food and beverages manufacturers are poorly prepared to comply with the record keeping requirements mandated by the Food Safety Modernization Act, according to a new survey”. How can you enjoy a food safety audit when the majority of manufacturers are unprepared you ask yourself? Most people equate a food safety audit with a visit to the dentist, an audit by the IRS or something else equally tedious and potentially painful. But it does not have to be this way.
Using technology to respond to a Listeria recall It’s Tuesday – your least favorite day ever – at least this Tuesday is… you’ve been notified that your company is recalling product due to Listeria… produced in your plant! In cases like these it is of paramount importance to have a predetermined course of action included in a detailed Recall Plan. The goal of a Recall Plan is to provide explicit steps to rapidly identify and remove the recalled product from the marketplace to ensure the health of the public.
FSMA shifts FDA’s focus from reaction to prevention and makes food producers accountable for the safety of their products. Better food safety practices are always good for business and will help you differentiate your business from your competition and can help increase your top and bottom line. Good food safety practices have an impact on your bottom line. Your best-in-class food safety practices will be recognized by consumers and valued, allowing you to advance your business.
New FSMA rules require that companies establish a food safety plan (FSP) that meets certain key requirements. Food Safety companies are responding by developing products that can help the small and medium companies be compliant with the new FSMA rules.
The Food Safety Modernization Act shifts the Food and Drug Administration's focus from reaction to prevention. Food producers are now accountable for the safety of their products. A survey by iRely found "71% of food and beverages manufacturers believe that FSMA will require changing the way they operate." This contrasts with the 44% of them who can't point to specific parts of the act that could cause problems.
The passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) has brought about a period of "hurry up and wait" for the food production industry. It was signed by President Obama on January 4, 2011 and promised to bring sweeping change to the industry in hopes of reducing the numbers of Americans who become sick or die from unsafe food each year. But while little has changed since FSMA was passed, the FDA will be starting to enforce the new food safety regulations soon, and you have to be ready.
No one involved in food production ever wants to release contaminated food that could put consumers at risk. But without intensive testing, it can happen. In addition to performing spot tests on your food products, you should also be frequently testing your plant environment. Environmental testing plays a critical role in providing the layered defense system necessary to ensure that safe, healthy, nutritious, fresh and affordable food is produced for and delivered to customers.
If you work in a food plant, you know that food safety is a serious issue. If you're facing a food safety audit, you want to be as prepared as possible. Since the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act, food audit standards have changed, and the food plants of today need to be prepared.
Encompassing 200 acres in Dutchess County, New York, Sprout Creek Farm is dedicated to providing agricultural education, fostering spiritual development and producing internationally award-winning cheeses. Colin McGrath started as Sprout Creek’s head cheesemaker in 2006. Over the past ten years, he’s managed the creamery and developed their line-making artisanal cheeses from the milk of grass-fed cows and goats the age-old, traditional methods of European farmstead cheese.
The CRADA is with the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Nutrition, Center for Veterinary Medicine, and Winchester Engineering Analytical Center CAMBRIDGE, July 21, 2016: Synthetic biology and food safety innovator Sample6 today announced the initiation of a multi-center Collaborative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Nutrition (CFSAN), Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM), and Winchester Engineering Analytical Center (WEAC).
Company Leads Innovation to Enable Preventative Food Safety – Stop Recalls Before They Happen CAMBRIDGE, July 14, 2016: Synthetic Biology and Food safety innovator Sample6 today announced that it was granted a new patent enabling extremely rapid and sensitive bacterial detection for the genus Listeria through the use of the proprietary phage-based luminescence assay.
A food recall can seem like a ruinous situation. However, keep in mind that hundreds of food safety recalls take place each year. By being transparent and diligent, your brand can survive one and emerge even stronger.
Today, FDA rules for food production and distribution change fast, and it can be difficult to stay on top of it all. Some of the most recent changes from the FDA revolve around the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). On September 17 of 2015, the FDA published its final rules for preventive controls in both human and animal foods. These rules require FDA-registered facilities that handle human and animal foods to monitor for hazards and implement preventive controls to mitigate pathogens.
It seems like in recent months and weeks, you just can't seem to escape the news of some type of food recall or without hearing about an outbreak of food contamination at a local restaurant. The CDC has been working with the USDA, FDA, and state/local public health officials to investigate these recent outbreaks caused by Listeria monocytogenes. So, how can you protect yourself from Listeria? Let's first start with the basics.
Routine testing in regards to microbiological food safety is monitored by the Food Safety Inspection Services (FSIS). Monitoring can be done to a variety of aspects of the food safety plant and with a variety of techniques and machinery. With that said, there are general guidelines and steps that the FSIS recommends with safety sampling. We also looked into food safety testing around the world and if it varied greatly between the US, Europe and Asia.
Antibiotics have been used since the discovery of Penicillin in the 1940s, and have been incredible in treating potentially dangerous infections as well as opening doors to many medical procedures.
When it comes to food safety, we tend to focus on the food processor and their environmental monitoring system, or the home kitchen and how to keep food properly stored until consumption. But what about the in between step of where the food is sold?
It has been a busy month for our CONTROL team and we have lots of exciting updates to share! We have some exciting enhancements to Schedules and some other improvements that should make your experience with CONTROL even better!
Over the summer, we introduced you to some of the most frequent causes of foodborne illnesses. There are over 200 known species of bacteria that are related to foodborne illnesses. Here are five more that are frequent offenders and have made a few headlines.
It has been five months since state authorities declared that the water in Flint, Michigan was unsafe to drink. The situation has caught national attention, and has raised many questions towards water quality management systems.
There has been a lot of recent attention to organic food products and organic farming. As more research comes out about the dangers of synthetic pesticides and inhumane agricultural practices, more support is going towards what is "natural."
Here at Sample6, we like to give a shout out to companies that are doing food safety right. Based out of Madison, Maine, Backyard Farms has food safety as their number one priority, and they won an award for it! They grow fresh tomatoes year round in a 42-acre greenhouse, complete with dynamic quality monitoring systems.
It has been a busy month for our CONTROL team and we have lots of exciting updates to share! We have some exciting enhancements to remediations and a bunch of small changes that should make your experience with CONTROL even better!
As we all know, nutrition labels contain a lot of valuable information (serving sizes, ingredients, calories, total fat grams, cholesterol, etc.) that can help us maintain a healthy lifestyle. These labels offer vital information regarding what's in a product, how much is in a product, if the product can be consumed by particular individuals with dietary restrictions, and more.
FSMA has been enacted into law for almost 5 years, and is kept up to date with the newest food safety innovations. In September, we talked about new preventative measures for human and animal food. 2016 has begun with creating new legislation in regards to produce production and processing, as well as the finalization of the Foreign Supplier Verification Programs (FSVP) that applies to both human and animal food. FSMA continues to define and help implement safe environments for all parts of the food production process!
We built Sample6 CONTROL Basic because the work of environmental testing doesn't happen behind a desk and so you need tools that can tackle the challenge of food safety with you in every nook and cranny of your plant. You also need tools that let you plan but also adapt to the reality of unplanned events. We are always working to meet this goal and this week we have a few exciting updates to share:
Cronobacter is a lesser known bacterium, but can be just as dangerous as the more famous ones like Salmonella and E. coli. This bacterium can survive in dry environments, such as powdered baby formula, powdered milk, herbal teas and starches. It can also survive outside of a host organism and so, can be found on kitchen counters and food production factory surfaces. Learn more about how to keep your food safe in every process of preparation!
Our goal is to make food safer. The first piece of this is detection but then you must respond to the results. The sanitation team plays a critical role in food safety. Let's do a quick run down of what the critical components in a sanitation program should include:
It has been a busy month for our CONTROL team and we have lots of exciting updates to share! We have some exciting enhancements to remediations and a bunch of small changes that should make your experience with CONTROL even better!
Campylobacter is a spiral-shaped bacteria that can sicken humans and other animals. It is one of the most common causes of foodborne illness, moreso than Salmonella. With that said, it is not usually associated with outbreaks. The FDA estimates that the bacteria affects roughly 1.3 million persons every year. Read more to find out why we should give them more attention!
Spending most of my life on the east coast, I had rarely heard of Jack In the Box before I worked in food safety and then it was front and center. First for the event that woke up an industry and the lives it took and then for the world class changes and practices that they helped usher in. Let's review:
This week, we announced our first synthetic biology patent. This work, Recombinant phage and methods, contributes to our unique process of phage engineering which is the building block for DETECT/L, our in-shift Listeria assay. I sat down with Dan Brownell, one of the inventors, to get the scoop:
There's nothing glamorous about food safety (and food poisoning) but it does come up a surprisingly high number of times in movies and on TV. While food safety is no funny matter, we appreciate Hollywood bringing this to the forefront and making us giggle. Here are some of my favorites:
Every day, professionals are hard at work creating and experimenting with new food safety technologies. At Sample6, we're passionate about keeping track of what's new in the industry. We've compiled a list of recent stand-out food safety technologies we think you should know about.
All environmental monitoring begins with a collection tool and there are a wide range of options. There are different mechanisms, sponge materials, bags and more. Let's do a quick run down:
Do the food and quality certifications sound a bit like alphabet soup to you? You are not alone! Having come from a manufacturing background, ISO was familiar but SQF and BRC were new to me. Let's do a quick run down!
Happy New Year! It has been a busy month for our CONTROL team and we have lots of exciting updates to share! We have enhancements to everything from reports to remediations to scheduling to settings.
Thank you for an amazing 2015. We look forward to making food safer with you in 2016. A happy holidays and a happy new year from all of us at Sample6 to you and yours!
According to Robert Brackett, Senior Vice President and Chief Science and Regulatory Officer of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), food safety metrics are vital for several reasons. Food safety professionals can use metrics to help assess the effectiveness of risk and safety, the development of appropriate preventive controls, food safety plans, plant design, and industry funded or conducted research. These findings can also help to create regulatory policies, establish public health priorities, and boost consumer confidence.
Protecting food from every single contaminate is nearly impossible. We simply can't wash out all the possible impurities. Even so, when you go to take a bite out of a chocolate bar or take a scoop macaroni and cheese, you're probably not thinking of rodent filth. Well, maybe now you are... Don't worry, the FDA doesn't allow a sizable amount of animal filth or other gross ingredients in your food. It's interesting to note the different threshold levels the FDA assigns to each food. For instance, you can't have 20 maggots per 100 grams of drained mushrooms but you can have 19. Below is a list of 12 gross things the FDA allows in the food supply and a few examples of each:
There are two schools of thought on environmental testing locations. Some plants identify test locations and keep them largely consistent. They then cycle their testing through those test points. Others, identify criteria for a set of testing based on area of plant, zone, shift, etc. and send their team out to identify new locations each time they test. Both methods can be used in conjunction with a strong environmental program to keep your plant safe. Many leading companies leverage a combination of both. Let's dig into the advantages and challenges of each approach and the tools that you need to manage them.
Wondering what foods do the most damage? Check out our infographic below to see which foods cause the most illnesses, hospital visits, and deaths.
We are continuously working to improve Sample6 CONTROL. Check out these exciting updates around printing schedules and reports.
You may have heard the term "food safety culture" being thrown around recently. Following the Blue Bell ice cream outbreak, FDA's deputy commissioner claimed, "Facilities with a strong food safety culture want to fix the problem." After the recent E. coli outbreak at Chipotle, Bill Marler, a nationally recognized personal injury lawyer and food safety advocate, told BuzzFeed News, "I think corporate leadership needs to step back and look at their food safety culture." But wait a second, what is "food safety culture" and what steps can you take to improve its presence in your company?
Are you outsourcing your food safety testing? If you answered yes, you're not alone. In fact, in a recent Food Manufacturing survey, 48% of respondents reported that they outsource at least some of their testing to contract laboratories.
Every morning I come into work, I check all my favorite food safety resources. These websites help me stay up to date on breaking news and continuously expand my knowledge on all things food safety.
We are continuously working to improve Sample6 CONTROL. Check out these exciting updates around sorting, searching and exporting.
The FDA come into your plant either for a routine visit or in response to a recall. You have a strong program. You are committed to making it stronger. So wouldn't it be great to know what they are looking for. Well here are some of the observations from recent FDA plant audits:
To get to the root cause of foodborne illness, we can use DNA fingerprinting, interviews, previous studies, and comparisons. However, there are many roadblocks that can leave the cause of an outbreak a mystery. Here are 7 reasons why food poisoning is so mysterious:
Food safety culture is a hot topic these days and critical component to strong food safety program. Food safety culture, like any corporate culture, is built and maintained on 6 components: Vision, Values, Practices, People, Narrative and Place as defined by John Coleman in the Harvard Business Review. But technology can and should play a critical supporting role in food safety culture. Let's explore the what, how and why:
October is apple season! Orchards are full with families and caramel apples are popping up in grocery stores. But with recent recalls, should we be concerned?
We are continuously working to improve Sample6 CONTROL. Check out these exciting updates around CONTROL Basic, Abandonment and Group Remediation Schedules.
Halloween is right around the corner. But remember, the excitement, cool costumes, and piles of sweets comes with some risk. Make sure you practice a food-safe Halloween this year by following these 6 tips:
Check out our collection of food safety quotes from Sample6 and others in the industry:
At Sample6, we look at food safety differently. We believe testing should be fast and information should be accessible and actionable. With the help of new technology, we are excited to see food safety moving in a positive direction. In addition to improving our own products, we are constantly on the lookout for new advances in the food safety space. Here are some recent food safety innovations you should know about.
This week we announced our first iPad app, Sample6 CONTROL Basic. This was long in coming and something we feel is critical in food safety. It is a key component in our overall mission to make food safer. Let me explain:
Apps are very helpful in today's fast-paced, digital world. When it comes to food safety, efficiency is key. Here are some food safety apps that are helping to prevent foodborne illness:
It's been 4.5 years since FSMA was originally written into law. This month, the first two major rules have been finalized: Preventative measures for human food and animal food. How exciting! For those who have been watching the FSMA process closely, there are only a few small changes to what has been previously published in response to public comments. Check out what's new to make sure you're up to code for the coming deadlines.
Each year in the U.S., 42,000 cases of salmonellosis are reported and 400 people die from acute salmonellosis. The key to preventing Salmonella contamination is the environment. At the beginning of this month, we launched a survey on Salmonella practices. Here are some of the interesting results.
If you've ever worked in a food plant, a restaurant, or in catering, you're probably familiar with the types of protective gear professionals use to keep themselves and the food they're working with safe. Some attire dates back centuries ago, like the classic white chef hat and some of it's goofy, like a beard net (for all you scruffy people out there). Whether classic or recent, the goal of these articles of clothing is safety and hygiene. Before we take a deeper look at what other purposes these items can have, let's take a look at the different types of food safety gear you find in the world today.
Last week one of my co-workers was out sick. All week we received a string of email and text updates, culminating with one from his wife saying that they were at the ER and that he had Salmonella. They determined that he had contracted it at a restaurant on Saturday night. He was out all week. Even at a food safety company, we are not so regularly reminded of the impact at both a personal and business level of foodborne illness. He lost 17 lbs in 5 days and commented that this is the sickest he has ever been. Fortunately, he recovered in a few days and is back to work, working harder than ever to keep food safe.
Infamously known for being the source of the massive salmonella outbreak in 2008 and 2009, Peanut Corporation of America has since gone bankrupt and closed its doors. With 714 illnesses (plus many more likely unreported), 9 deaths, and an estimated $144 million in economic losses, the outbreak that stemmed from PCA peanut butter stands as one of the worst food safety contaminations in modern history.
We are continuously working to improve Sample6 CONTROL. Check out these exciting updates around multiple remediations, warning days and schedule import/export.
You may think you're a straight-shooter, but if you bring a Kinder Egg into the U.S., you're breaking the law. Although some food is legal (and highly celebrated) in other countries, there might be a federal ban if the U.S. government finds good reason.
About 2.8 million Americans have a peanut allergy. Peanut exposure can cause allergic reactions that range from hives to food-induced anaphylaxis. Each year, about 150-200 Americans die due to an allergic reaction to peanuts. To combat this problem, researchers have been working to create non-allergenic peanuts. We decided to take a closer look at recent advancements and what this innovation can mean for the American food supply.
We've found some food safety memes floating around the internet and we've made some of our own. Even food safety professionals need a good laugh!
Every day, more than three million people around the world fly on commercial aircraft. On many of these flights, airlines provide passengers with a meal and/or snacks. If you've flown before, you've probably had a little tray of foil-wrapped food items placed in front of you. You might be hungry or excited for something to do on a long flight but should you dig in, or think twice? Let's take a look at airplane food safety.
Leader in Food Safety Walmart is one of the world's largest retailers with stores set up in over 30 countries, over 200 million customers worldwide, 2.2 million employees, and tens of thousands of food suppliers. Frank Yiannas, Vice President of Food Safety for Walmart Inc. and a food safety expert, says that the Walmart approach is "establishing food safety performance standards as opposed to prescriptive solutions." Their methodology has already proven itself. In 2010, they instituted new protocols towards safety with beef and today, they have a 99% reduction in beef recalls among Walmart suppliers that are complying with these new requirements and standards. Here are some other reasons why Walmart's food safety is excelling and making them a leader in food safety protocol for large retail.
Admit it, even if you're a food safety professional, at some point you've licked cookie dough off a wooden spoon. After all, what's the fun in baking if you have to wait for the food to be ready before eating? As a child, your parents may have warned you not to eat too much or risk getting ill. If you work in food safety, you probably know what foodborne pathogens might be lurking in your uncooked cookie material. So, is sneaking a lick of raw cookie dough actually risky or just an old wives' tale?
Street food is eaten by almost 2.5 billion people everyday. There are over 15,000 food trucks in almost every city in the U.S. with food ranging from fish tacos to Vietnamese rice bowls. However, with such a small kitchen serving such a large customer base, is food truck food safe to consume?
We hear about new policies and regulations being put into place for food processors and distributors, but who exactly is putting these policies into place? FDA, CDC...it's easy to get them confused and mix up who does what. Here is an infographic on the three main bodies of government that are in charge of food safety regulations and politics, and what issues each one deals with.
Getting on the government's radar Food safety is not a frequently discussed topic in Presidential Elections, but 2016 is already proving to be a different case. Food safety experts are calling for more attention to food safety and food safety reform. In 2010, the Obama Administration passed FSMA (Food Safety Modernization Act), which is known as the biggest legislation towards the food industry since Teddy Roosevelt’s revolutionized the meatpacking industry. However, five years later, we are still seeing thousands of cases of foodborne illness. Many of the rules in FSMA have been implemented, but they are greatly underfunded. Not only that, but the different food safety branches of government have different rules and regulations, making food safety checks complicated and confusing. Many answers have been suggested to make food safety in America a better, smoother system. Congress members and upcoming presidential candidates are now focusing on how to make this change.
Researchers estimate that up to 15 million Americans have food allergies. According to a study released in 2013, the number of people who have a food allergy is growing. Every 3 minutes, a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency room. To prevent these dangerous reactions, food manufacturers are responsible for properly labeling their products with a list of ingredients and allergy warnings.
The food industry used to be more focused on damage-control than on prevention. Manufacturers would test a finished food product to ensure it was safe to consume or, more often than not, they would test in response to an outbreak of foodborne illness in order to discover what food was making people sick. However, in the last few decades, the food industry has greatly evolved. Now, instead of working to fix problems, manufacturers are taking steps to prevent them altogether. So, should you test the food or the environment? Here's your answer:
We are continuously working to improve Sample6 CONTROL. Check out these exciting updates around remediations, investigative test points and support.
Last weekend, the best and the brightest in food safety gathered in Portland, Oregon for the International Association for Food Protection Annual Meeting. IAFP brings together food safety and production specialists from all over the world to talk about the latest technological advances and topics of concern in the food safety industry. In addition to the business and technical sessions, we host an annual breakfast panel to explore the tough topics. It is always a fun and interesting event and this year was no exception. This year's panelist brought perspectives from regulatory, academia, retail and wholesale. David Acheson of The Acheson Group, Craig Wilson from Costco, Indaue Mello from Coca-Cola, and Professor Martin Wiedmann from Cornell shared their expertise and ideas along with an enthusiastic audience. Here's a quick recap:
When I was young, I didn't know much about food safety. To be honest, I probably ate things off the floor and tried to eat the inedible. As the years went on, I began to learn some simple things, like wash the visible dirt off of fruit, smell your milk before you drink it, and don't eat too much cookie dough or risk getting sick. Honestly, I used to think my mother fabricated the cookie dough rule just so I wouldn't eat too much. When I began to question what was wrong with it, she gave me my first in depth food safety lesson: Salmonella.
Technological advancements are vital in the food industry. We are constantly learning more about foodborne pathogens and how to protect our food supply. In addition to advancing our own food safety technology, at Sample6, we like to keep an eye out for emerging technologies that will benefit our space. Here are some recent stand-out innovations:
When people think read-to-eat food, they most likely think of sandwich meat, salad items, cereal, and fruits. These are but a few items on the overwhelmingly long list. According to the FDA, ready-to-eat food includes raw animal food that is cooked a specific way or frozen in a specific way, raw fruits and vegetables that are specially washed or cooked for hot holding, all potentially hazardous food that is cooked and cooled to the time and temperature required, substances derived from plants, bakery items, and certain dried meats like jerky.
The United States is second, falling only behind New Zealand, in ice cream consumption. In fact, 87% of Americans have ice cream in their freezer at any given time and the average American enjoys 48 ice cream pints a year! But rather than running after the ice cream truck or grabbing it at the grocery store, many Americans are making their own ice cream at home. Some restaurants and ice cream shops are also making their own ice cream in house instead of buying from suppliers. But if you see a "Homemade Ice Cream" sign or decide to make ice cream on your own, will it be safe to consume? Here are some answers to top questions:
Every year, there are multiple cases of food poisoning due to tainted sushi. Just recently, raw tuna sushi was linked to a total of 53 people in 9 states. Some may be nervous to eat sushi due to this reason but luckily eating reasonable amounts of raw seafood is ususally safe. Of course, there are some risks that can come with eating sushi you should be aware of. Here are some answers to your top sushi questions.
Which of these food safety tips are myths and which are facts? Take the quiz to see if you know the answers.
FSMA Review The Food Safety Modernization Act, controlled by the FDA, is a food safety reform law that shifts attention from responding to contamination to preventing it in the first place. It was first signed into act in 2011, and continues to be edited and expanded. The act focuses on three main topics: preventing food safety problems by improving standards of safety and procedures of production and shipping, improving the ability to detect and respond to food safety problems including more regulation about inspection and compliance of the facility being inspected, and improve the safety regulations and monitoring of imported food. It also touches on enhanced partnerships, both domestic and international. Here are some of the most recent 2015 updates to FSMA.
What is the TPP? The TPP stands for Trans Pacific Partnership. Similar to the TTIP, it is a proposed free trade agreement but instead of being between the USA and the European Union, the TPP is between the USA and countries found along the Pacific rim, as illustrated below. In regards to food safety and food trade, the deal hopes to remove trade-inhibiting tariffs, simplify custom procedures, and make international food trade less expensive. However, many are concerned that this simplification will leave room for error in food testing, and increase the amount of imported food that is not safe for consumption.
The solution to preventing foodborne illness is at its core, very simple. Keep the bugs that make people sick out the food supply. But as any food safety professional knows, this is much easier said than done. It's only as a result of tremendous efforts of these professionals that we have the safest food supply in the world. However, when prepping for battle, it is critical to know your enemy so let's do a quick review of the worst offenders.
At the beginning of this month, the USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline turned 30 years old. In the past 3 decades, they have answered over 3 million phone calls. Here's a breakdown of their most noteable accomplishments and interesting stats.
What is it? TTIP stands for Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and it is a proposed free trade agreement between the United States and the European Union. The partnership aims to get rid of most tariffs affecting trade across the Atlantic. It also plans to lessen other non-tariff regulatory barriers to transatlantic commerce. If passed, it will create the world's biggest free trade zone spanning the north Atlantic and affecting one quarter of global trade.
Norpaco Gourmet Foods is a leading manufacturer of Italian style specialty food products. From their Connecticut facility, they deliver the taste of the Tuscan countryside with their specialty food products such as stuffed cherry peppers, stuffed olives, panini style meat and cheese rolls and more. Norpaco delivers great value and consistent quality by using the finest raw materials, including peppers sourced from Peru, authentic recipes and utmost attention to quality and safety.
As the weather heats up, people are starting to spend more time outdoors. Although food might not be the focus of your next summer hike, boat ride, beach or camping trip, it's important to know some essential tips to avoid foodborne illness. Here are 10 food safety pointers to keep in mind when packing to head out on your next summer adventure.
We are continuously working to improve Sample6 CONTROL. Check out these exciting updates around investigative test points and summary groups.
One of the best things about summer is growing your own food! But gardens can be the first stop for dangerous bacteria and other pathogens. Here are some food safety tips for every green thumb.
Many have heard the rule, most frequently cited by kids or desperate parents, that if food is on the floor for less than 5 seconds, then it is still safe to eat. The logic behind this “rule” is that in less than 5 seconds, the food is unable to pick up bacteria or other contaminants. Oftentimes, it is used as an argument to reduce amounts of waste, as well as an excuse to be able to pick up and finish tasty treats. We did a little research to see how accurate this really is.
This weekend, we will honor our Dads. As we head out for barbecues be sure to keep food safety in mind. Check out this infographic for some barbeque fun facts and important food safety tips.
Sample6 users are amazing. We may be a little biased. They are all hard working, diligent, passionate about food safety and extremely busy. However, aside from their commitment to integrating new technologies into their operations, they are incredibly diverse. They come from all over the country, from different types of products, and from multi-national organizations to Mom & Pop plants. They also have taken a variety of different approaches to fit food safety testing into their work flow. Here's what they look like:
There comes a time when you know a relationship is over and it is hard but you know it is right. It is time breakup with enrichment. To help you out, we even wrote the letter for you:
An apple a day keeps the doctor away, as long as it is safe. Just how big a problem is food safety and what can I do about it? Check out this infographic to see what you can do to keep your food safe.
We are continuously working to improve Sample6 CONTROL so that truly gives you "control" over your data, your food safety program and your plant. We here requests from our users daily and we work hard to roll this into our product as quickly as we can. As we always say, together, we can make food safer and we thrilled to hear new ideas about how to make our environmental monitoring software help you. Based on some of your feedback, we have released a few exciting improvements:
There may be different perspectives within your organization as to what testing is required for your food safety program and each have different resource, risk and customer implications. As you sort out what makes sense for you, consider a few things:
With FSMA implementation underway, let's take a quick look back at the legislation from Lincoln to Obama that took control of food safety and shaped our current food safety system.
Standardized testing is frequently a topic of debate among educators, government officials and parents. Most communities have found that despite pitfalls and disadvantages, there are valuable reasons to benchmark students and schools. The same is true for food safety tests, typically called proficiency testing. Proficiency testing determines the performance of individual laboratories for specific tests or measurements. This testing can be used to monitor laboratories' continuing performance. Here are some factors to consider in your proficiency testing:
We are all human. We all make mistakes. Some are bigger than others. When it comes to data, a simple error can have significant consequences. To help solve this, we recently released improved upload tools in Sample6 CONTROL. But just for fun, let's take a look at the top 5 data entry errors;
Big data is the all-encompassing term people use to describe a collection of data that's so large and complicated that it's very difficult to process using traditional methods. This data has the potential to be mined for information. 90% of the data that exists today was created in the past few years but only 0.5% of this data is currently analyzed. Big data has created a change in thinking. We now ask: What happened? Why did it happen? What's happening? Why is it happening? What is likely to happen? And what should I do about it? We have tools that help us answer these questions like reporting dashboards and real-time analytics. But can big data help us solve food safety problems? Let's take a look.
Trends are common phenomena. From ripped jeans and tie-dye shirts to Greek yogurt, certain trends appear - pervasive. These trends are harmless. However, a Listeria trend isn't so innocent. In just the past two months alone, there have been 16 different recalls due to Listeria contamination. Surprisingly, most of the recalled products are not usually associated with the bacteria. So, are these recalls related? Let's start from the beginning.
When most people think of food recalls, they don't think of recalls that affect their pets! Every year there are dozens of potentially harmful pet products recalled. Protect your furry friends by staying up to date with pet food recalls.
In recent months, there have been quite a few recalls. Consumers are wary of ice cream, hummus, and a variety of dairy products. The FDA keeps track of all recalls in their database. Take a look at this infographic to see a recap of last year's recalls.
Our mission is to make food safer and our belief is that users can only be successful if tools are easy to use and fit their business processes. This means that our tools should be supportive and flexible and not dictate process. As a result, the more customers we have leveraging Sample6 CONTROL, the more feedback we have on our product. Our job is to turn this feedback into useful features which can be utilized by all of our customers. Here's an update on some the new features in our environmental monitoring software:
Say you're a hummus company. One day, your competitor discovers Listeria in one of their products and they have a massive recall. Unfortunately, if you don't have a proper traceability system in place, even though your products aren't contaminated, consumers may start to avoid the entire category of products. This can severely impact the entire industry rather than just the individual company responsible.
Food poisoning is a seriously unpleasant experience. Those of you who have had it probably don't want to even think about it. Those of you who haven't it, consider yourselves lucky because 1 in 6 of us get sick from foodborne illnesses each year! Luckily, when most of us run into a nasty foodborne pathogen, we might feel pretty sick but we have the immune systems to prevent further harm. Unfortunately, some of us are more vulnerable to foodborne diseases and need to take extra precautions. Check out the infographic below to see who's in the high-risk group.
Due to a loophole that's been used for decades titled: 'Generally Recognized as Safe' (GRAS), an added substance is exempted from being labeled as a food additive if it is generally considered safe. As a consumer, this means many of the foods you buy at the store contain ingredients that haven't been evaluated or approved by the FDA. As a manufacturer, GRAS gives you the flexibility to self evaluate allowing you to add ingredients to your products without a long approval process. No one should be more invested in ensuring that components in products are safe than the manufacturer who places their name on it. Let's explore this a bit:
I work for a food safety company focused on Listeria so when a recall hits products that my friends and family care about, I get all sorts of text messages and emails. In the past week, I've received comments and questions on the recent hummus and ice cream recalls. At Sample6, our goal is to help companies avoid recalls in the first place through strong environmental sampling programs, driven by fast results and powerful software. However, until then, there will still be recalls and there will still be questions.
You're not going to be killed by warm mayonnaise or a freezer-burned steak.
So you're in the food industry... That must mean your job is all about factories, hairnets, and production lines. Right? People in the food industry are used to this common assumption. But we know there's much more to food production. Below are some of the cool things about the food industry only an insider would know.
Since it was published, the "Are You A Food Safety Pro" Quiz has been taken 252 times. Here's a breakdown of the results. By looking at the questions that had the lowest percent of correct answers, we can see what aspects of food safety need to be spotlighted. For those of you who would still like to take the quiz, click here.
It has been more than 3 years since we first started working on our environmental monitoring software, Sample6 CONTROL. We started with a simple task, digitize the paper floorplans and sticky notes found in so many plants. We started with a basic floorplan, showing test points, their proximity to locations and their test history. Our users have helped us learn more about how this data is used, and helped us evolve the software to including scheduling, reports and remediation. But when we took a second look at the floorplan and realized, it was time for an upgrade! We are proud to share some of these improvements in our beta version:
Food labeling issues occur all too often in the United States. These mistakes are usually associated with negative consequences such as allergic reactions, recalls, profit loss, lawsuits, and even death. But what if some of these mislabeling incidents weren't a mistake but a conscious decision?
Clover Stornetta, a milk supplier based in northern California, recently adopted Sample6 DETECT in its Petaluma bottling plant. Originating in the early 1900s, Clover has always strived to produce high quality products based on the simple equation, happy cows = delicious, nutritious milk. With this in mind, Clover Stornetta works closely with farmers and producers at every step of the process to ensure the production of the cleanest and best tasting milk.
Every three minutes someone is taken to the emergency room for a food allergy reaction. Although no one really keeps track of how many injuries or deaths have been caused by undeclared allergens, it's safe to assume that a dozen or so happen each year with about 10-15% of them leading to death if not treated. Undeclared allergens are the leading cause of food recalls today. Check out the infographic below to see the break down of undeclared allergens in the US.
DETECT/L received the Performance Tested Method (PTM) certification by the AOAC Research Institute (AOAC-RI) in April of 2014. That’s the first time an enrichment– free, in-shift pathogen test received this certification.
Every year, microorganisms sicken 48 million people, hospitalize 128,000, and kill 3,000. In response to this problem, scientists worldwide are working to create new technologies that help reveal these hidden dangers. At Sample6, we are always keeping track of new advancements in the field. Below are three new food safety innovations we're excited about:
Whenever I visit my grandfather's house, I always triple-check the expiration dates before eating anything from the fridge. Why? Because he never throws anything out. (I'm pretty sure I've found a beer from 1998 in there!) Obviously, food dated by more than a decade should be thrown out. But, when expiration dates are more recent, it's sometimes less clear what to do.
This article was originally printed in Produce Ops, December 2014. It’s a small world, and the food industry crosses many borders. The challenges, risks and concerns from one part of the world are not held within national boundaries. In fact, the dinner served tonight likely has fruits and vegetables from all over the world; the safety infractions from one company or region have a global impact.
Imagine, you're walking down the frozen section of the grocery store. You reach into the freezer and grab a frozen pizza, tossing it into your cart without a second thought. You might not think about it, but if you grabbed a cheese pizza, the FDA ensures your safety. If you picked up a peperoni pizza, both the FDA and the USDA are involved.
Everyone has a bad milk story. Remember that one time when you poured milk into your cereal and it came out in chunks? Gross. In addition to ruining a perfectly good bowl of cereal, dairy products can cause some severe health risks if not processed and handled properly. Here are some potential dangers:
Valentine's Day is right around the corner and you know what that means: Love is in the air, couples dine in candlelight, and people (both taken and single) indulge in an excessive amount of chocolate. In fact, 58 million pounds of chocolate is purchased during the week of Valentine's Day and $1.7 billion is spent on candy. It's a great time of year for candy companies like Hershey and Mars. But when you hit the stores to purchase your pink wrapped chocolates, keep in mind that during the production of cocoa and chocolate products there's a potential risk for problems such as Salmonella, agricultural chemicals, and heavy metals. Let's take a closer look at the extensive food safety measures these candy giants take to ensure consumers' well-being.
For most traditional pathogen testing, enrichment is a critical step. Enrichment, the process of growing additional cells, has been a consistent part of your testing through different pathogens, technology platforms and vendors and it has always worked for you. In its time, enrichment was a revolutionary process that enabled great advancements in microbiology but there are also some serious drawbacks that come with it.
56 million Costco members shop in 605 warehouse stores located in 40 states across America, Puerto Rico, Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Australia.
In 2011, thirty people died from eating cantaloupe melons infected with Listeria. More than 110 others were sickened and many were hospitalized across 28 states, making it the worst deadly food outbreak in almost 100 years and the third-deadliest outbreak in U.S. history.
2015 promises to be a significant year for food regulation. The USDA and the FDA are taking some important steps to prevent foodborne pathogens, finalize the FSIS rules, and make food safety preventative instead of reactive. Check out the infographic below to see what to expect in 2015.
One in six Americans will get sick from food poisoning this year. Odds are, many of you will get sick from tainted food, causing you to call out of work, miss an important event, or just feel plain crappy.
Super Bowl Sunday is the second largest food consumption day in America, only falling second to Thanksgiving. 9 in 10 people stay home to watch the big game so when it comes to prepping food for guests and yourself, it's important to follow food safe practices. Check out the infographic below to make sure you're ready for game day!
Food recalls occur too often in the food industry. Whether it’s fresh cut red apples with Listeria, nutrition bars with Salmonella contamination, or ice cream with undeclared peanuts, recalled foods cause problems for companies and complications for customers. Sometimes recalled products have the potential to cause illness or even and death.
Food safety is a public health priority. The CDC estimates that 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) gets sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases each year. According to MarketsandMarkets, the food safety testing market is projected to reach $15 Billion by 2019. New technology is constantly created to help eliminate foodborne illnesses and other evolving threats to food safety. We believe this year will be a significant for food wellbeing. Let’s take a look at where the focus will be in 2015.
At Sample6, our mission is to make food safer. We can only do this by partnering with the leaders and innovaters in the food safety industry. 2014 was a great year with the introduction of our first products, DETECT & CONTROL. Innovative companies like Dietz & Watson, RLS Logistics and New England Charcuterie have joined our mission, as some of our first customers. Check back here soon for more customer success stories. We also worked together with experts to continue the industry conversation on food safety. This year included our first webinar, featuring John Butts and our 2nd Annual Making Food Safer Breakfast Panel. Thanks for a great year! From our team to you and yours, we wish you a happy holiday season! Together, we can make food safer.
Cross-contamination is one of the top causes of foodborne illnesses both at home and commercially. To avoid contamination at home, be sure to separate raw from cooked food, cover food when refrigerating, and avoid keeping food out for long hours. However, cross contamination at home is only part of the problem. Cross contamination in commercial processing facilities is a leading cause of pathogen contamination.
At Sample6, we are on a mission to make food safer. We are partnering with companies large and small, from all across the country, in all different product types. Innovative companies come in all shapes and sizes. This month’s customer success story is RLS Logistics. RLS Logistics is a premier third party logistics company based in New Jersey. Their focus is temperature-controlled logistics. Originally founded as a family mushroom farm in 1968, the business has transformed under three generations of the Leo Family. Over the years, the services have expanded to include trucking, warehousing, customized packaging, and national distribution. As the needs of their customers evolved, RLS added and expanded their business.
As they say on one of my favorite shows, Criminal Minds, "To catch a criminal, you have to think like one." The same applies to bacteria. In our earlier blog post, 'How to think like a bug', we shared some insight to help design your environmental sampling practices. With our focus on finished product, we will explore how bacteria interact with food matrices.
Our latest customer success story is New England Charcuterie. New England Charcuterie, located in Waltham, MA, recently adopted both Sample6 DETECT and Sample6 CONTROL.
With Sample6 DETECT/L, our in-shift in-plant environmental test on the market, we have started development on finished products. Our vision is in-shift testing for all products, all pathogens.
It is so easy for messages to get lost in translation. How do you and your organization ensure that quality and food safety data is clearly and efficiently communicated?
At Sample6, we are on a mission to revolutionize food safety with pathogen detection that gives a result in less than 7 hours, requires no-enrichment (and can therefore be done in-plant), can be run by a junior lab tech, and has a total cost that is the same or cheaper than other alternatives. A challenge, for sure, and all for not without adoption.
As an industry, we are constantly evolving to make food safer. By coming together to share innovations, ideas and techniques we can advance food safety practices from reaction to prevention. One major platform for industry collaboration is through trade shows and conferences. Here are some of our favorite events!
When combined with an effective environmental testing strategy, food product testing is an essential part of making food safe. There are as many different food matrix tests as there are different food types sold. These include dairy and egg, poultry, meats of all kinds (fresh and cured), ready to eat foods, leafy greens, fruits (fresh and prepared), fish, spices and many others. Each test is specifically designed to deal with the unique properties of the food matrix it is intended to test.
At Sample6, we are working hard to develop the fastest, easiest to use diagnostic to keep food safer. The accuracy of our test is our top priority. This has also been a hot topic lately in the food safety community with presentations by Jeff Kornacki at IAFP, blog posts from Tom Weschler and a recent article from the American Proficiency Institute about their findings on test accuracy.
When we built Sample6 CONTROL, our focus was helping to solve the challenge of managing environmental data. We met customers with giant and complex Excel spreadsheets and paper floorplans with sticky notes. We knew that we could offer a better solution. The first step was to sort out the challenges that food processors were facing:
2014 has been a year of accelerating progress for Sample6. The early years of a tech startup are focused on frontier research and development, planting seeds that you hope will grow into successful products. In 2014,the seeds that we planted have grown and started bearing fruit.
Last week, our team spent the week in Indianapolis with nearly 3000 Food Safety Professionals at IAFP 2014. As always this was a great opportunity to learn and collaborate with the greats in food safety. Here were the highlights for me:
At Sample6, our team is motivated by our mission to make food safer but our technology, the force behind Sample6 DETECT, is powered by bacteriophages. Phages allow us to build a highly specific, enrichment-free pathogen diagnostics. We continue to develop this platform for more matrices and more pathogens. In addition to being part of the food safety community, we are proud to support the bacteriophage community.
Our second annual Breakfast panel is one week from today! We are looking forward to an insightful and animated discussion with our panel of food safety experts and many of you. With food processors, regulators, academics, and other industry stakeholders, we can dig into the hard topics to help make food safer. We are so proud to have our four panelists, David Acheson, Will Daniels, Ruth Petran and Joan Menke-Schaenzer. Each brings a unique perspective and a wealth of experience in food safety.
At Sample6, our mission is to provide food producers with a fast and reliable assay for pathogen detection. The Sample6 DETECT/L assay requires only a six-hour incubation, making it the first AOAC-certified, enrichment-free assay that can be performed start to finish in a single shift. However, this is just the first step. Under ideal conditions, with healthy cells, we are able to detect a single cell in one hour, but real world conditions present real challenges. Let’s walk through those challenges and talk a bit about what we are doing to address them:
We are regularly asked why we chose to start with an environmental test, and when we will make a finished product pathogen test. The short answer is we started with an environmental test because our focus is on prevention. Our vision is to be the smoke detector for pathogens in your plant. By preventing issues before they reach food contact and food, we have the biggest opportunity to minimizing risk and cost to your company and the consumer.
The Sample6 Webinar: Environmental Control through the Use of Indicator Sites is quickly approaching, and we are excited to host Vice President of Land O’ Frost, Dr. John Butts. John has a wealth of knowledge in food safety and his indicator site methodology is a best practice that we are proud to share. In preparation for this week's event, let's get to know John a bit better.
At Sample6, our initial focus was on the development of faster diagnostic for Listeria. It was clear that 2-5 days was just too long to wait for critical data. We quickly uncovered that data tracking was as much, if not more, of a challenge in food safety. We were presented with spreadsheets of data, handwritten maps with sticky notes attached and hard working teams who didn’t have the tools they needed to plan, track, react and communicate. Two years later, CONTROL is in active use by both our pilots and customers. Let's take a quick look at where we've been and where we're going.
At Sample6, we are commited to delivering the technology needed to make food safer at the plant level. Along the way, we've learned a lot about food safety in general. There are many misconceptions in consumer use. Some of the most common myths will surprise you.
With 1,600 illnesses and 260 deaths annually in the United States due to Listeria, both the FDA and USDA have developed extensive regulations and recommendations to guide manufacturers. However, the requirements vary by agency and product type. To help you better understand this, here’s a quick overview of the regulatory requirements for Listeria.
Last month, the Sample6 DETECT/L listeria environmental assay was certified by the AOAC. DETECT/L is the first in-shift non-enrichment test that the AOAC has ever certified. To our customers, this is a critical milestone, required for the adoption of a new diagnostic. Our advisor, David Acheson of The Acheson Group, describes it as “the gold standard in validation for food safety diagnostics and indicates a high standard of product that users can have confidence in.”
With Sample6 DETECT and Sample6 CONTROL, critical environmental data can now be measured and compiled.
At Sample6, we are committed to creating an easy to use diagnostic that fits in-plant and in-shift. The key to developing a test that does not require a lab environment or a microbiologist is to test it under those conditions. This is the mission of our Applications group. We serve as the “first customer” for Sample6 DETECT/L. Here’s how we ensure that the product is easy to use before Customer Success brings it to you.
In an earlier blog post, we went over the 7 Key Principles of HACCP. These are critical in the development of an environmental control plan. However, with the changing regulatory environment, we continue to meet food safety managers who are new to the process and may still be confused about how to begin. Having the right tools to test your environment and track your data will only be effective with a well designed plan. For those new to this process, let's go through the preliminary steps in the development of your HACCP plan. Also, be sure to refer to FDA's HACCP Principles & Application Guidelines for more detail.
At a recent trade show, an executive from leading lab walked over to our booth and asked to learn more about our products. He facetiously joked that he wanted to know more about the test that was trying to take away his business.
Sample6 is focused on bringing new technologies to food safety through in-plant, in-shift diagnostics as well as powerful software. Our software platform is a cloud-based solution. Most of us currently use at least one service in our professional or personal lives that leverages cloud storage. This includes services like iCloud, Salesforce.com, Quickbooks and many more. However, as we apply this to the world of food safety, let's take moment to go over what cloud technology is and its security.
Over the past 2 years, I have frequently joined presentations, demonstrations and field visits on our first product, Sample6 DETECT/L. The audiences have ranged from microbiologists to plant workers, to plant managers to corporate vice presidents to investors. The conversation always follows a similar pattern. Everybody gets the “why” immediately: a Listeria assay that produces results in less than a single shift is better than diagnostics that takes 24 hours or more. Plant and production teams focus on the logistics opportunity to deliver safe products faster. Quality teams consider the opportunities to test closer to the product. Sanitation teams are excited by the ability to receive clear actionable information and microbiologists are excited to use this type of diagnostic to investigate presumed positives prior to sanitation. We hear unanimously that the opportunity to test and retest when conditions may still be representative will revolutionize testing, investigations and resolutions. But, no matter who I’m talking with, the next question is always the same, “How can you deliver results so quickly, how does it work?”
Two years of clever and diligent R&D work by the Sample6 team has paid off with our first significant industry milestone, AOAC certification. When we set out to revolutionize pathogen detection for food safety, we knew it would require a lot of hard work but we quickly realized that revolutionizing food safety would require buy in and support from the entire food safety industry. Going through the AOAC certification process brought this to light, as it required collaboration and partnership with the AOAC organization, third party labs, and our pilot partners.
At Sample 6 we’re designing and manufacturing the first enrichment free environmental pathogen diagnostic. This test is designed to be used in-plant to deliver accurate, actionable results to the user in a single shift. Over the last couple years the product development team has been working diligently to optimize the performance of DETECT/L and validate its performance with a number of food-processing facilities across the country.
To the quality managers we work with, a recall can be a career and company-defining event. It is an action taken to protect the consumers and the company as a last resort. The vast majority of recalls are voluntary and a reflection of conscientious behavior by the retailers, wholesaler and producers. As a result of a recall, companies and brands incur high costs in investigation, remediation, customer management, logistics and brand perception. With the amplification in social media and news channels, public perception regarding food safety and recalls can get distorted. Here’s the truth about recalls:
At Sample6 we are working hard to bring the first enrichment-free environmental pathogen test out to the plant. In order to ensure success, we have worked with many pilot plants over the past year to help define what it takes to bring Sample6 DETECT/L and CONTROL to the plant. My team is focused on customer success. This includes training, integration and customer support. Our focus has been on ease of use for a broad range of skill sets within your plant. Whether it will be your quality team, sanitation team or someone from the production floor running the test, the process must be easy to learn and easy to perform with consistent results.
For environmental samples, there are a range of detection methods that can be used with varying degrees of accuracy and time trade offs. Most food processors select a rapid screening test such as an immunoassay or PCR test, which provide them results in 3 days. In the event that a positive is found with one of these methods, many food processors will chose to confirm using culture. The full USDA culture protocol requires 5 days, and includes 2 types of selective enrichment and then 2 days on agar plates.
It’s been one year since I joined Sample6’s crusade to revolutionize pathogen testing and food safety. In that time I’ve had the privilege of touring over a dozen food plants from Boston to Salinas Valley. I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to “quality test” cooked bacon – delicious! I’ve seen freshly severed fish heads, lettuce - washed, chopped, spun, blown and bagged, and six-foot vats of melted cheese that would make a glorious Super Bowl party. It has truly been like Charlie’s tour of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory: amazing, impressive and occasionally terrifying. It is amazing how different locations, product types and companies have one thing very much in common. In every single case, there is an impressive and sincere commitment to shipping safe food. The food safety folks I have met are doing everything they can; using every available resource; to ensure that the food their plants are producing is safe. But, they all are in agreement that the tools available today are not ideal for achieving this goal.
Every once in a while, you need to get outside your own four walls and talk to people from all parts of the food safety universe: food processors, diagnostic test providers, consultants and regulators, to name just a few. During the last few weeks, I had the opportunity to attend two conferences, GFSI, Global Food Safety Initiative, in Anaheim, CA and CFS, Center for Food Safety Conference, in Atlanta, GA. These exercises are critical in ensuring that our development efforts are well aligned with the needs and wants of the industry.
A robust environmental pathogen program has at least 10-15 test results per line per week, often much more. Each test result includes meta data such as sample location, day and time, sample collector, and result.
In order to develop a revolutionary diagnostic, we have processed thousands of real world samples using Detect/L. To measure our performance during development, we have confirmed each of these samples using traditional methods. Depending on our workload, sometimes we run confirmation in house and sometimes we ship them off to a third party lab. In the process, we’ve established great partnerships with labs around the country. We’ve also learned a lot about working with your outside lab.
At Sample6, we have been working to develop an in-plant, in-shift pathogen diagnostic for over 2 years. We have partnered with the leaders of industry and we have learned a tremendous amount about environmental sampling. We have also sampled food contact and non-food contact surfaces, inside and outside food processing plants all across the country.
Working with our partners, we’ve learned about sampling practices and sampling locations. In order to fuel development of an in-shift enrichment free diagnostic, we have also processed thousands of real world samples. We’ve learned a tremendous amount about how to build an in-plant, in-shift pathogen diagnostic. We’ve also learned a few surprising things about environmental samples.
At Sample6, we are very proud that our first product which is currently in pilot, Sample6 Detect/L, is enrichment-free. For many of you, enrichment is a practice that have used to since your early biology classes, but for others, enrichment is a new term. Here's a crash course on enrichment, it's history and it's challenges.
Happy New Year! The start of the year is a great time to evaluate what you’ve learned and establish goals for the coming year. Over 2013, we’ve made strides in development and learned a tremendous amount about environmental pathogen testing andthis year we will launch Sample6 Detect and Sample6Control!
As 2013 comes to a close, we look back on a whirlwind year. We were proud to welcome our new CEO, Tim Curran, new investors from Caanan Partners and Sandbox Cultivian as well as many new partners in development. We look forward to an exciting 2014 as we bring Sample6 Detect and Sample6 Control to more of you. To partner with Sample6, click here
For a strong environmental pathogen program, you need to select appropriate sampling points and test them on a regular basis. To do this, you need to construct schedules using your business rules and best practices. Through our pilot program, we have had the opportunity to work with leading food processors all around the country and learn more about how they construct their schedules. Here are the six key components to considering when building your environmental sampling schedule.
Blogs are a valuable resource in every industry, and food safety is no exception. They are a highly efficient tool as they often highlight and summarize recent happenings or trends in the industry. Additionally, they provide a source of insights and opinions from other major players in the food industry. At Sample6, we believe that getting timely information is fundamental to keep the food supply safe. We hope that our blog is a valuable resource to you. We have also gathered a list of our favorites.
At Sample6, we are looking forward to Thanksgiving and we have a lot to be thankful for this year and it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without a home-cooked turkey dinner! In the spirit of the season and our commitment to best practices, here are 5 tips to keep your turkey safe.