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Updated: 2 years 3 weeks ago

CDC Report Breaks Down Meat and Poultry Plant COVID-19 Outbreaks and Causes

July 13, 2020 - 9:21am
The July 10 CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) included the report: COVID-19 Among Workers in Meat and Poultry Processing Facilties – United States, updating how COVID-19 outbreaks among meat and poultry processing facility workers can rapidly affect large numbers of persons. According to the report:

Among 23 states reporting COVID-19 outbreaks in meat and poultry processing facilities, 16,233 cases in 239 facilities occurred, including 86 (0.5%) COVID-19–related deaths. Among cases with race/ethnicity reported, 87% occurred among racial or ethnic minorities. Commonly implemented interventions included worker screening, source control measures (universal face coverings), engineering controls (physical barriers), and infection prevention measures (additional hand hygiene stations).

Distinctive factors that increase meat and poultry processing workers’ risk for exposure to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, include prolonged close workplace contact with coworkers (within 6 feet for ≥15 minutes) for long time periods (8–12 hour shifts), shared work spaces, shared transportation to and from the workplace, congregate housing, and frequent community contact with fellow workers. Many of these factors might also contribute to ongoing community transmission

As such, while meat and poultry processing facilities face distinctive challenges in the control of infectious diseases, CDC recommends targeted workplace interventions and prevention efforts that are appropriately tailored to the groups most affected by COVID-19 are critical to reducing both COVID-19–associated occupational risk and health disparities among vulnerable populations.

Read the full report.

Categories: News in Food Safety

USDA Publishes Final Guidance on BE Standard

July 7, 2020 - 5:10am
USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has issued final guidance to assist regulated entities in complying with the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard including: Guidance to Ensure Acceptable Validation of a Refining Process, Guidance on Testing Methods and two frequently asked question (FAQ) documents pertaining to each final guidance document. A notice announcing the availability of the final guidance will be published soon in the Federal Register. The documents can be found on the AMS website.

Both guidance documents and their respective FAQ documents can be used by regulated entities to establish protocols for complying with the Standard by the mandatory compliance date of January 1, 2022.

In the final rule establishing the Standard, AMS indicated it would provide instructions to validate a refining process as well as instructions regarding acceptable testing methodology used to satisfy that a food does not contain detectable modified genetic material. The final documents provide guidance that regulated entities can use to ensure their validated process and testing method complies with 7 CFR 66.9(c) of the Standard.

After review of all comments received on the draft guidance, AMS:

  • Removed references to the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point to clarify that the Standard is solely for marketing and not related to food safety.
  • Specified end-product testing options.
  • Clarified fit-for-purpose methods.
  • Added ISO standards for references.

AMS also provides responses to comments it received in the FAQ documents that accompany the final guidance documents. For more information visit https://www.ams.usda.gov/rules-regulations/be.


Categories: News in Food Safety

IAFP Announces 2020 Award Recipients

July 3, 2020 - 9:57am
The International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) will present awards recognizing excellence in food safety to the following organizations and individuals at IAFP 2020, October 25–28 in Cleveland, Ohio.

Award winners include

  • The IAFP Fellow Award is given to professionals who have contributed to IAFP and its affiliates with distinction over an extended period of time. This year, two recipients will receive this honor: Robert Buchanan, University of Maryland, College Park; and Mickey Parish, U.S. Food and Drug Administration. CFSAN, Washington, D.C.
  • Dallas G. Hoover, University of Delaware, Newark, will be awarded the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award. This award, given at the discretion of the IAFP President, recognizes an individual who has made a lasting impact on Advancing Food Safety Worldwide through a lifetime of professional achievements in food protection.
  • The Honorary Life Membership Award will be presented to Patrice Arbault (posthumously), BioAdvantage Consulting, Orlienas, France; Jeffrey Farber, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada; Judy Harrison, University of Georgia (retired), Athens; Allen R. Sayler, EAS Consulting Group, LLC, Alexandria, Virginia; Peter Slade, Food Safety & Quality Consulting, Squamish, British Columbia, Canada; and Mary Lou Tortorello, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (retired), Bedford Park, Illinois. This award recognizes IAFP Members for their dedication to the high ideals and objectives of IAFP and for their service to the Association.
  • The Harry Haverland Citation Award will be awarded to Gary R. Acuff, Acuff Consulting LLC, College Station, Texas, for his years of devotion to the ideals and objectives of the Association.
  • Clear Labs, San Carlos, California, will receive the Food Safety Innovation Award, given for its development of Clear Safety, an automated, intelligent next-generation sequencing (NGS) platform built for food safety testing.
  • The International Leadership Award will be presented to Norma Heredia, Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, San Nicolas, Nuevo León, Mexico, for her dedication to the high ideals and objectives of IAFP and for promotion of the mission of the Association in countries outside of the United States and Canada.
  • Joseph Stout, Commercial Food Sanitation, Kenosha, Wisconsin, will receive the Food Safety Award (formerly the GMA Food Safety Award) in recognition of a long history of outstanding contributions to food safety research and education.
  • The Frozen Food Foundation Freezing Research Award will be presented to Claire Zoellner, iFoodDecisionSciences, Inc., Ithaca, New York. This award honors an individual, group, or organization for preeminence and outstanding contributions in research that impacts food safety attributes of freezing.
  • Shivaramu Keelara, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, will receive the Institut Mérieux Young Investigator Award in Microbial Resistance. This award recognizes an individual who has shown outstanding ability and professional promise as a researcher in food microbiology/food safety focusing on antimicrobial resistance.
  • The Maurice Weber Laboratorian Award will be presented to Donald W. Schaffner, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, to recognize his service for outstanding contributions in the laboratory and recognizing a commitment to the development of innovative and practical analytical approaches in support of food safety.
  • Si Hong Park, Oregon State University, Corvallis, will be presented the Larry Beuchat Young Researcher Award. This award is presented to a young researcher who has shown outstanding ability and professional promise in the early years of his or her career.
  • Jeffrey Farber, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada, is the recipient of the Ewen C.D. Todd Control of Foodborne Illness Award. This award recognizes an individual for dedicated and exceptional contributions to the reduction of risks of foodborne illness.
  • Rick J. Heiman, Dairy Farmers of America, Kansas City, Kansas, will receive the Sanitarian Award to recognize his dedication and exceptional service to the profession of sanitarian, serving the public and the food industry.
  • The Elmer Marth Educator Award will be presented to Lynn M. McMullen, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, to recognize her dedication and exceptional contributions to the profession of the educator.
  • Andrew J. Clarke, Loblaw Companies Limited, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, is the recipient of the Harold Barnum Industry Award. This award recognizes his outstanding service to IAFP, the public and the food industry.
Categories: News in Food Safety

Detectapro Introduces Metal-Detectable Scrub Pads

July 2, 2020 - 9:49am
Detectapro has introduced new metal-detectable scrub pads. The durable, long-life scrub pads are of a high-visibility blue color to reduce concerns of food product contamination. The pads are 5.9 inches by 8.9 inches with 0.35-inch thickness. They are detectable down to 1 inch by 1 inch.

For more information visit www.detectapro.com, or email paul@detectapro.com or call 866.441.5572 for a free sample.

Categories: News in Food Safety

Common Food Additive Causes Adverse Health Effects in Mice, UMass Amherst Researchers Report

July 2, 2020 - 6:01am
A common food additive, recently banned in France but allowed in the U.S. and many other countries, was found to significantly alter gut microbiota in mice, causing inflammation in the colon and changes in protein expression in the liver, according to research led by a University of Massachusetts Amherst food scientist.

“I think our results have a lot of implications in the food industry and on human health and nutrition,” says lead author Hang Xiao, professor and Clydesdale Scholar of Food Science. “The study confirmed a strong linkage between foodborne titanium dioxide nanoparticles (TiO2 NPs) and adverse health effects.” Along with colleagues at UMass Amherst and in China, Xiao published the research in Small, a weekly, peer-reviewed, interdisciplinary journal that covers nanotechnology.

Gut microbiota, which refers to the diverse and complex community of microorganisms in the gut, plays a vital role in human health. An imbalance of gut microbiota has been associated with a range of health issues, including inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. Human exposure to foodborne TiO2 NPs comes primarily from a food additive known as E171, which is made up of different-size particles of TiO2, including one-third or more that are nanoscale. E171, which makes products look whiter and opaquer, is found in such food as desserts, candy, beverages, and gum. E171 exposure is two to four times higher in U.S. children than in adults, one study has found.

Smaller than 100 nanometers, foodborne nanoscale particles may have unique physiological properties that cause concern. “The bigger particles won’t be absorbed easily, but the smaller ones could get into the tissues and accumulate somewhere,” Xiao says.

In their study, Xiao and his team fed either E171 or TiO2 NPs to two populations of mice as part of their daily diet. One population was fed a high-fat diet similar to that of many Americans, two-thirds of whom are obese or overweight; the other group of mice was fed a low-fat diet. The mice fed a high-fat diet eventually became obese, while the mice on the low-fat diet did not.

“In both the non-obese mice and obese mice, the gut microbiota was disturbed by both E171 and TiO2 NPs,” Xiao says. “The nanosized particles caused more negative changes in both groups of mice.” Moreover, the obese mice were more susceptible to the adverse effects of TiO2 NPs, causing more damage in obese mice than in non-obese ones. The researchers found TiO2 NPs decreased cecal levels of short-chain fatty acids, which are essential for colon health, and increased pro-inflammatory immune cells and cytokines in the colon, indicating an inflammatory state.

To evaluate the direct health impact of gut microbiota disrupted by TiO2 NP, Xiao and colleagues conducted a fecal transplant study. They gave mice antibiotics to clear out their original gut microbiota and then transplanted fecal bacteria from the TiO2 NP-treated mice to the antibiotic-treated mice. “The results support our hypothesis that including TiO2 NPs in the diet disrupts the homeostasis of the gut microbiota,” Xiao says, “which in turn leads to colonic inflammation in the mice.”

The study also measured levels of TiO2 in human stool samples, finding a wide range. Xiao says further research is needed to determine the health effects of long-term – such as life-long and multigenerational – exposure to TiO2 NPs.

Categories: News in Food Safety

Seeking Applicants for the 2021 ASA Corteva Agriscience Young Leader Program

July 2, 2020 - 5:47am
The American Soybean Association (ASA) and Corteva Agriscience are seeking applicants for the 2021 ASA Corteva Agriscience Young Leader Program. The program, sponsored by Corteva and ASA, is a two-phase educational program for actively farming individuals and couples who are passionate about the future possibilities of agriculture. The women and men who participate in this program will be the leaders that shape the future of agriculture.

Phase I will take place December 1-4, 2020, at Corteva’s Global Business Center in Johnston, Iowa. The program continues March 2-6, 2021, in San Antonio, Texas, in conjunction with the annual Commodity Classic Convention and Trade Show.

“The Young Leader program has had a tremendous impact on the soybean industry. Many of the leaders at the state and national level got their start in this program, including me,” ASA President Bill Gordon said. “The Young Leader program is special because it focuses on the grower’s potential while helping them creating meaningful and lifelong relationships with growers from across the U.S. and Canada. This is extremely important as we work to ensure growers have the tools, they need to be profitable. The program also includes both partners in the operation which builds both the business and the industry. We are grateful to Corteva Agriscience for continuing to invest in the future of agriculture.”

Lucas and Becky Miller, Class of 2020, stated “The ASA Corteva Agriscience Young Leader Program is a phenomenal opportunity for any person or couple who is interested. It is so much more than just a few days of leadership training in a classroom. During the training we were able to interact with people involved in multiple aspects of the soybean industry. We got updates on everything from government regulation, to seed and chemical updates, to trade information, and even a look at trends into the future. The insight we received from these industry leaders was truly amazing.”

Soybean grower couples and individuals are encouraged to apply for the program, which focuses on leadership and communication, the latest agricultural information, and the development of a strong peer network. Spouses, even those not employed full-time on farm, are encouraged to attend and will be active participants in all elements of the program.

ASA, its 26 state affiliates, the Grain Farmers of Ontario and Corteva Agriscience, will work together to identify the top producers to represent their state as part of this program. “America’s farmers provide the strongest voice for, not only agriculture, but also for rural America. We are proud to support the young leader program, which is developing the next generation of grower leaders and advocates for U.S. agriculture,” said Matt Rekeweg, U.S. Industry Affairs Leader, Corteva Agriscience.

For more information an application, visit ASA.

Categories: News in Food Safety

Bio-Rad’s iQ-Check Vibrio Real-Time PCR Kit Receives AOAC Validation

July 2, 2020 - 5:25am
Hercules, Calif.-based Bio-Rad Laboratories has announced that AOAC International has validated its iQ-Check Vibrio Real-Time PCR Kit to detect the presence of the three main Vibrio species found in raw or undercooked seafood (V. cholerae, V. parahaemolyticus, and V. vulnificus) with a fast enrichment time. To obtain this approval through the AOAC’s Performance Tested Methods program, a validation study was performed that demonstrated no significant differences between the iQ-Check Vibrio Real-Time PCR Kit method and the FDA Bacteriological Analytical Manual “Chapter 9 Vibrio” (May 2004) reference method, even with the shortened enrichment time offered by Bio-Rad’s method.

The assay was validated for use with 125-gram test portions of cooked shrimp as well as 25-gram portions of cooked and raw shrimp, raw mussels, raw oysters, and raw tuna. The iQ-Check Free DNA Removal Solution, which removes problematic free DNA from the sample with a nontoxic and easy-to-use procedure, was also validated for all of the sample types.

The iQ-Check Vibrio Real-Time PCR Kit method was approved for use with the Bio-Rad Vibrio Enrichment Broth (after a seven- to nine-hour enrichment period) and alkaline phosphate water (after a six- to 18-hour enrichment period).

For more information visit bio-rad.com/vibrio.


Categories: News in Food Safety

FDA Adds QR Code Security Measure to Certain Food Export Certificates

June 22, 2020 - 7:40am
Beginning June 29, 2020, the FDA export certificates for human food products, "Certificate to a Foreign Government" and "Certificate of Exportability," will include a unique QR code to enable easier verification of their authenticity.

This added security measure means that anyone who receives a certificate from a U.S. exporter can scan the QR code and see a copy of the certificate as issued by FDA. The use of QR codes will expedite verification of FDA-issued export certificates compared to the current system, which requires a stakeholder to create an account, contact FDA to activate the account, and log in to verify the authenticity of certificates. 

FDA is also updating the format of these certificates to streamline the display of certificate data. For more information and examples, visit: Examples of CFSAN-Issued Export Certificates. In conjunction with these changes, the FDA will also be launching a new portal to streamline the process for verifying the authenticity of certificates without QR codes to be released June 29. 

Although FDA will begin issuing the updated certificates on June 29, the agency requests that importing countries continue to honor and accept any certificates issued with the previous format, through their expiration dates.

Review of a certificate may be required by foreign countries as part of the process to import a product into those countries. FDA issues certain export certificates for some CFSAN-regulated food products upon request from industry. FDA does not require export certificates to export foods to foreign countries.

For more information, visit Online Verification of Export Certificates for Food.

Categories: News in Food Safety

Solution Providers Confirm Interoperability of Multiple Traceability Systems

June 16, 2020 - 5:23am
GS1 US, in collaboration with FoodLogiQ, IBM Food Trust, ripe.io and SAP, has confirmed that multiple traceability systems can interoperate to transmit and exchange information about a product’s journey throughout the supply chain to support end-to-end food traceability. The first phase of a multi-phase proof-of-concept focused on supply chain visibility and included solutions that leveraged blockchain, cloud and other traceability technology from the solution providers.

The proof-of-concept participants defined and simulated seafood supply chain data sharing across four traceability systems leveraging GS1 Standards, which provide one consistent way for businesses to communicate information in food recalls. The group determined that the interoperability between solutions was possible when leveraging the GS1 System of Standards for the unique identification of products and locations, as well as GS1 Electronic Product Code Information Services (EPCIS) as a standardized data model. EPCIS provided a consistent format for sharing event data and transmitting key information from production to sale by uniformly facilitating the transmission of critical tracking events, such as whether a product had been shipped, received, packed or transformed.

In the next proof-of-concept phase, GS1 US will work with the four solution providers and industry partners, including suppliers, distributors, retailers, and foodservice operators, to implement EPCIS and determine how it can be further extended in real-world product tracing. The proof-of-concept will focus on defining and validating industry data requirements before moving on to a phase exploring use cases that leverage traceability standards and any industry-specific requirements to enable interoperability at that stage.

In the next phase, the goal will be to understand data requirements and determine if there is a new technical standard or protocol required for interoperability to enable permissioning, privacy and access controls. Subsequent phases will explore the value of distributed ledger technology in more advanced use cases. This type of collaboration will ensure a consistent direction moving forward as traceability standards and their supporting technologies, such as blockchain, scale and mature.

For more information on GS1 US blockchain resources, visit www.gs1us.org/blockchain.

Categories: News in Food Safety

Eriez ProGrade Line of Magnetic Separators Now Offer More Power

June 16, 2020 - 4:59am
Eriez ProGrade Tubes, Grates and Liquid Line Traps are now available with the new and improved Xtreme RE7 Rare Earth Tube Circuit, which proved to be 13 to 40 percent stronger than other magnets on the market today in head-to-head pull tests. Items offered through the ProGrade Program are economically priced, in stock and ready for quick shipment. 

“Our recently-introduced RE7 Rare Earth Tube Circuit is the strongest technology available today, far surpassing competitive models in terms of pull testing, gauss rating or both,” says Eric Confer, Product Manager-Separation. “Greater separation efficiency directly and positively impacts product purity and plant productivity.”

Eriez ProGrade Xtreme Rare Earth magnetic separators remove weakly magnetic fine ferrous contamination to ensure ultimate product purity and equipment protection. Eriez continues to offer ProGrade products in lower-powered models for customers with less stringent separation requirements.

Eriez designed its ProGrade line of magnetic separators for budget-conscious customers who need quick solutions to their toughest processing challenges. Confer says, “Like all items in our ProGrade line, Xtreme RE7 models offer unbeatable protection at rock-bottom prices.  Customers will be glad to learn that although the power is now amplified, the price remains the same as our previous Rare Earth products.” 

For more information about the Eriez ProGrade Program, visit erieznews.com/nr370  or contact an Eriez magnetic separation specialist at 814-835-6000.


Categories: News in Food Safety

PestWest Introduces New Fly Control System

June 15, 2020 - 8:00pm
PestWest recently introduced its latest innovation, flyDetect, a 24/7 fly control remote monitoring system. The fly trap has a built-in wide-angle camera, which takes a high-resolution image of the entire sticky board daily or on demand.

Using the latest data capture and analysis technology, the flyDetect system alerts the pest control professional either via the dedicated flyDetect mobile app or the web-based app when a fly capture threshold is reached. Capture thresholds can be tailored to the sensitivity of the situation in which the flyDetect is being used. The alerts are based on a traffic light system of green, amber and red.

flyDetect images can also be reviewed in high resolution, allowing the pest control professional to make informed and proactive decisions in real-time when a threshold alert has been triggered.

Fred Hurstel, sales director for PestWest said, "We are very excited to be launching flyDetect. It has been years in the making and the first of its kind in the pest control industry. Many industries that have highly sensitive areas such as food, packaging, healthcare and pharmaceutical industries will be amazed with the new technology."

For more information about flyDetect, visit www.flydetect.com

Categories: News in Food Safety

IFCO introduces New RPC Mini Series

June 15, 2020 - 7:47pm
MUNICH - IFCO SYSTEMS, a leading supplier of Reusable Plastic Containers (RPCs) for fresh food, today announces the launch of its new RPC Mini Series. The Mini Series RPCs are the smallest reusable containers on the market specifically designed for the transportation of fresh food. The size of the RPCs allows retailers, growers and suppliers to efficiently use the available space when transporting convenience food and fresh, pre-packed food for immediate consumption.
                    Increasing transportation volume by one third per pallet With the development of the new RPC Mini Series IFCO is responding to changing customer needs. More and more consumers are buying healthy snacks prepared for immediate consumption, such as sandwiches, ready-to-eat salads, carrot sticks or apple slices. As retailers have adapted their product ranges to this demand, the need for reusable packaging in which convenience food and fresh snacks prepared for immediate consumption can be transported efficiently and, in a space-saving manner has been continuously increasing. Due to the special shape of these products, for example triangular packaging for sandwiches, a lot of unused space remains during transport in conventional returnable packaging. The IFCO RPC Mini Series is designed to save space when transporting pre-packed, ready-to-eat snacks and convenience food. As a result, the transportation volume increases by one third per pallet compared to the use of conventional reusable containers. Mini Series RPCs are also suitable for the compelling presentation of fresh food and snacks in retail outlets and the products can be placed so that the label with all important product information is visible. "With our RPC Mini Series, we offer our customers future-oriented reusable packaging. The consumption of convenience food and healthy snacks prepared for immediate consumption will continue to increase in the coming years. With our Mini Series RPC, which has been specially developed for the transport of these products, we enable our customers to make optimum use of the limited space available and deliver the goods fresh and cost-efficiently to their destination," explains Wolfgang Orgeldinger, CEO at IFCO SYSTEMS. RPC Mini Series allows more efficiency, sustainability and space gains The RPC Mini Series offers the same quality as all other IFCO RPCs. The stable and well-ventilated reusable containers cool the transported food optimally, increasing the shelf life of the goods throughout the entire supply chain and reducing product damage by up to 96 percent compared to disposable packaging. With the RPC Mini Series, IFCO now offers retailers, growers and suppliers the opportunity to transport convenience food and fresh food prepared for immediate consumption in a sustainable, space-saving and efficient manner. The RPCs are cleaned and disinfected according to the proven IFCO SmartCycleTM before being put back into circulation. IFCO repairs damaged RPCs, allowing them to be reused up to 100 times, and only granulates the RPCs when they are irreparably damaged. In this case, IFCO uses the granulate to produce new reusable plastic containers. As the use of IFCO RPCs protects natural resources and leads to significant decreases in CO2 emissions and solid waste, retailers, growers and suppliers can dramatically reduce their ecological footprint. The Mini Series RPCs are a quarter of the size of conventional RPCs, and compatible with IFCO Green Plus RPCs. The first of the new reusable containers were launched in the UK in February. In the few months since then, the pool of IFCO’s Mini Series RPCs has already grown to 250,000 units.  ]]>
Categories: News in Food Safety

Kogniz Health Launches Comprehensive, All-in-One AI Platform

June 15, 2020 - 7:39pm
SAN FRANCISCO, Ca. -  Kogniz, an innovator in security and machine learning, is launching the most comprehensive AI platform available today to help get people back to work and keep them safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. The Kogniz Health Response Platform is the only automated system that offers no-contact, high-volume temperature screening, contact tracing, social distancing enforcement, mask detection, and more.

"People are eager to resume work," said Daniel Putterman, Co-founder and Co-CEO, Kogniz. "As we slowly start to reopen communities around the world, employers have an ethical obligation to safeguard employees, guests and their communities. Our solution enables organizations from big box stores to campuses to operate as safely and efficiently as possible."

The Kogniz Health Response Platform includes:

• No-contact, multi-person, real-time temperature monitoring. The platform continuously measures body temperatures of large groups of people entering a building from up to sixteen feet away and provides accurate results even when it is cold or hot outside.• Social distancing enforcement. An optional extension enables existing surveillance cameras powered by the Kogniz Health Response Platform to send alerts to designated personnel when too many people are in a space, enabling organizations to swiftly enforce social distancing protocols.• Contact exposure detection. An optional extension enables existing surveillance cameras powered by the Kogniz Health Response Platform to identify those who come into contact with people displaying symptoms.• Mask detection. Ensures that employees and guests follow protective gear policies.

• Minimal hardware. Small, user-friendly footprints and flexible topologies enable most companies to install and begin using the platform in ten minutes or less.

Prior to launching the Kogniz Health Response Platform, the Kogniz AI researchers spent years developing the cutting-edge detection algorithms and customizable rules that form the nexus of the Kogniz platform, deploying the resulting Kogniz Security Platform in Fortune 500 security installations around the world. Those algorithms and intellectual property enabled the Kogniz team to quickly extend their security solution to the Kogniz Health Platform that now protects food processing plants, warehouses, government centers, office buildings, and more.

"Companies are extremely cautious and concerned as they plan to reopen. Employees should expect significant changes, including wearing masks, greater distances between desks, and rotating office time," Putterman explained. "Powerful yet unobtrusive technology like ours provides an additional layer of protection that will make the return to work safer and healthier for everyone."

Categories: News in Food Safety

Dot’s Pretzels Purchases New Building in Logistics Park Kansas City

June 15, 2020 - 7:35pm
EDGERTON, Kan. – Dot’s Pretzels, LLC has selected Logistics Park Kansas City in Edgerton, Kansas for their new manufacturing facility. The premiere pretzel brand in North America plans to begin operations later this year in the new facility that will increase Dot's production capacity to meet the ever-increasing national demand for their signature snacks.

"We are making significant investments in our technology at the new facility to keep the company on an aggressive growth trajectory," said Randy Johnson, CEO of Dot's Pretzels. "Not only will we be able to produce more pretzels but do so with greater consistency and ability to expand our product lines."

Dot’s Pretzels purchased a 186,107 square-foot building at 32180 W. 191st Street, in Edgerton, Kansas as part of a deal with Copaken-Brooks.  The new facility will be the largest manufacturing plant for Dot’s Pretzels. The company is investing $15 million and creating 22 new jobs.

“Food manufacturing is an industry on the rise, and we are excited to diversify the offerings at LPKC with the addition of Dot’s Pretzels,” says James Oltman, President of ElevateEdgerton! “A big thank you to our partners at Copaken Brooks, CBRE, the Kansas Department of Commerce, Kansas City Area Development Council, KC SmartPort, Kansas Manufacturing Solutions, Evergy and the City of Edgerton for their hard work to make this project happen.”

“I’m happy to welcome Dot’s to Edgerton,” says Mayor Donald Roberts. “We look forward to having a great partnership for years to come.”

“We are so pleased to see Dot’s Pretzels’ plan for growth in Edgerton, and proud that Dot’s is making Kansas home to its largest facility in the nation,” Kansas Department of Commerce Secretary David Toland said. “To help with Dot’s planned expansion, Commerce worked with our partners at KCADC, Evergy, ElevateEdgerton! and the City of Edgerton every step of the way. Collaborations like this are absolutely critical to helping Kansas companies grow.”

Career opportunities will be available in maintenance, machine operation, and quality assurance roles, starting this summer. Interested candidates can visit the Careers tab at www.dotspretzels.com.

EDGERTON, Kan. – Dot’s Pretzels, LLC has selected Logistics Park Kansas City in Edgerton, Kansas for their new manufacturing facility. The premiere pretzel brand in North America plans to begin operations later this year in the new facility that will increase Dot's production capacity to meet the ever-increasing national demand for their signature snacks.

Categories: News in Food Safety

Agricultural Research Scientists Honored for Their Federal Service

June 15, 2020 - 7:17pm
WASHINGTON D.C. — Heather Allen and Jo Anne Crouch, both scientists with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), have received the 2019 Arthur S. Flemming Award for their outstanding scientific achievements in the fields of antimicrobial resistance and plant health, respectively.

Allen was a research microbiologist with the ARS Food Safety and Enteric Diseases Unit in Ames, Iowa. Crouch is a research molecular biologist with the agency's Mycology and Nematology Genetic Diversity and Biology Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland.

They were among 13 total award recipients from across the federal government who were to be honored today during a recognition ceremony hosted by George Washington University (GWU). However, that ceremony has been cancelled due to the impacts of COVID-19. Together with the Arthur S. Flemming Awards Commission, GWU's Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration presents the awards annually in recognition of the outstanding achievements of Federal employees with three to 15 years of service.

"We're honored to announce that, for the second year running, two of our researchers received this prestigious award. It's also with sadness we note Dr. Allen received the Flemming award posthumously," said ARS Administrator Chavonda Jacobs-Young. "Both she and Dr. Crouch embody the ARS commitment to putting the best and brightest minds to work tackling today's most pressing agricultural and food challenges."

Allen, who passed away on March 7, conducted pioneering research on the sources, prevalence and dynamics of antibiotic resistance genes in the swine gut microbiome—namely, the community of bacteria, viruses, bacteriophages and other microorganisms that inhabit the animal's intestinal tract. Allen's findings filled critical knowledge gaps about the swine gut microbiome and helped inform regulatory policies guiding agricultural practices to counter antibiotic resistance in both animal and human pathogens.

Among her accomplishments, Allen showed that bacteriophages (viruses which infect bacteria) can play a key role enabling the exchange of antibiotic-resistance genes among gut bacteria when certain in-feed antibiotics are administered to pigs. Her findings expanded the understanding of how antibiotic resistance develops in bacteria associated with food-producing animals including bacteria of clinical importance like Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium, a leading cause of foodborne illness in humans.

Allen's cutting-edge investigations also set the stage for discovering beneficial bacteria in the intestinal tract of swine. An example is Allen and colleagues' discovery of 15 different types of bacteria in swine that make butyrate, a fatty acid that promotes gut health. Their development of an automated screening procedure, using high-throughput sequencing, and specialized DNA probes to characterize the bacteria and their butyrate-encoding genes contributed to improvements in pre- and probiotic formulations made by commercial feed companies.

Crouch was recognized for her excellence in establishing a comprehensive research program on the causal agents of emerging plant diseases, particularly fungi and oomycetes, fungus-like organisms also known as "water molds."

Crouch took an "outside the box" approach to determining the evolutionary relationships, host range, genetic diversity and other characteristics of the pathogens that challenged what science thought it already knew about them. She also led the use of advanced molecular techniques to not only detect and describe fungal and oomycete pathogens, but also mitigate the harm they inflict on cereal and specialty crops, as well as turf grasses.

Among her notable achievements, Crouch discovered that "dollar spot"—the costliest disease of turfgrass worldwide—is caused by four unique fungal species rather than a single pathogen, solving a puzzle that had eluded plant pathologists for 83 years prior to her molecular systematics studies and datasets. Crouch's overturning of long-held views on the cause of downy mildew in black-eyed Susan and impatiens opened the door to developing resistant cultivars of these specialty crops, valued at nearly $10 million (2014) and $131 million (2018), respectively.

Additionally, her use of preserved specimens from the ARS-administered U.S. National Fungus Collection for molecular studies of fungal and oomycete pathogens is a rarely used but productive approach for investigating sources of crop disease outbreaks. To date, there are only a few publications that discuss research conducted with these types of samples.

Flemming awards are presented to winners in one of five categories. Allen was recognized in the Basic Science category, while Crouch was honored in the Applied Science and Engineering category.

Categories: News in Food Safety

USDA-ARS Turns Food Waste into Edible Wraps

June 15, 2020 - 12:03pm
The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in Albany, Calif., is in the business of turning potentially wasted fruits and vegetables into good-tasting, healthful products. As director of the Western Regional Research Center (WRRC) in Albany, which focuses on solving food-manufacturing problems by using cutting-edge processing technologies, Tara McHugh said, "Adding value to specialty crops and plant-based waste materials by developing novel, healthy ingredients and functional foods is one of the main focuses of the unit's research.” The first objective is to increase the commercial value of plant-based, postharvest waste materials, high in dietary fiber and/or polyphenols, by reprocessing them into healthful foods and food ingredients. The fruits of the team's labors can be found on grocery shelves throughout the country – one of which is edible wrappers.

Edible Wrappers. To get more people to eat fruits and vegetables, McHugh and her team invented a way to cast fruit and vegetable purees into edible films that can be used as wrappings and coatings for other foods. The films are excellent barriers to oxygen and moderate barriers to moisture. They also exhibit superior color, flavor, and aroma and have excellent flexible properties and good nutritional value. Furthermore, through the addition of natural antimicrobials, the films can improve food safety.

Working with Origami Foods, which later became NewGem Foods, McHugh co-led the commercialization of fruit and vegetable-based edible films. The patented films are exclusively licensed and sold by NewGem Foods, located in Fife, Wash. The company has more than $8.5 million in product sales to date, which equates to more than 15 million servings of fruits and vegetables, McHugh said, adding, the new technology has created 56 new jobs in a rural area of high unemployment.

The main uses for the edible films are as alternatives to nori on sushi, gluten-free bread and tortilla alternatives, and glaze sheets for hams. These products are sold in retail grocery chains in the United States, Canada, and elsewhere, and are also used in foodservice operations.

McHugh used the same technology in collaboration with East-West Medical Research Institute to develop the first edible fruit straw. In addition, they found that incorporating natural essential oils from oregano, thyme, cinnamon, allspice, clove and lemongrass into apple- and tomato-based films and coatings helped to fight against E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella enterica, and Listeria monocytogenes.

Other innovations include:

  • In the early 2000s, McHugh developed the world's first all-fruit bar using a novel processing technology she and her team invented. Each bar is packed with 100% fruit and has no preservatives, fillers, or other artificial ingredients. The bars are made of unmarketable fruit that would normally be discarded. The technology allowed fruit growers to add value to their crop and create new markets, while helping people meet their daily fruit requirements. Each bar provides two servings of fruit.
  • McHugh's team also developed an infrared blanching and dehydration technology, which recently received a patent. The company Treasure8 saw this as a golden opportunity and licensed a suite of ARS patents on the technology for fruit and vegetable snacks. Treasure8 has an exclusive license for the patented process to make 100% fruit and vegetable snacks, using the infrared blanching and dehydration technology. Part of the company's success is due to McHugh and her team, according to Timothy Childs, Treasure8 cofounder and CEO. "The successful public-private partnership Treasure8 has formed with the USDA is a testament to Dr. McHugh's ability to help bring clarity and vision to complex, revolutionary applications, such as those that we at Treasure8 are now commercializing," he said.

ARS scientists continue to develop novel technologies to address manufacturing needs for nutritious, value-added, shelf-stable products. "We are constantly working on new ways to improve healthfulness in processed foods through science and partnerships with different companies, universities, growers, commodity organizations, government, and other stakeholders," McHugh said. The research supports small businesses and U.S. growers, and reduces waste and increases consumption of healthy foods.

For more information, visit USDA-ARS.

Categories: News in Food Safety