As per the FDA, there are about 48 million cases of foodborne illness annually, which is 1 in 6 Americans each year. Food production facilities frequently have issues with Listeria or Salmonella contamination. These facilities are facing greater scrutiny from both the public and the government to provide safe foods.
Advances in environmental monitoring and microbial sampling have brought to light the shortcomings of the food industry’s sanitation methods. While there are many reasons for recurring contamination by a persistent pathogen, insufficient cleaning and decontamination is the most common. Recurring contaminations are caused by microorganisms that were never fully eradicated from the facility.
Traditional cleaning methods, such as isopropyl alcohol, peracetic acids, quaternary compounds, bleach and ozone, are incapable of reaching all surfaces and crevices. Liquids, fogs and mists all have difficulty achieving an even distribution throughout an area, with surfaces closer or easier to reach, receiving a higher dosage than those further away or in hard-to-reach areas, like the bottom, back or insides of equipment, crevices, pipe threads, screws, and other harbor locations, which allow the pathogens time to reproduce and re-contaminate. Chlorine dioxide gas is able to overcome the inherent difficulties of other sanitation methods. By eliminating the ability for pathogens to “hide,” chlorine dioxide gas is able to leave food processing environments cleaner and safer than ever before.
Recent years have seen a rapid increase in the number of pathogen-related product recalls. On an average, each recall costs a full quarter’s worth of profits in addition to the value of the recalled product. The cost of these recalls has risen in this age of instant communication as well, where the news of a food product being recalled spreads quickly and has a greater impact on the brand and its sales. In addition to the monetary cost of the recall, the Department of Justice is also raising the stakes by getting involved with foodborne illness investigation in order to determine whether any criminal liability exists within the processor’s management team. If so, criminal charges and potential jail time are possible for those who “knowingly put consumers at risk.”
The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) has arrived, and food processors have entered a new age in terms of product liability and consumer responsibility. With FSMA regulations taking place and better methods of detections, there is a greater priority to rid facilities of harmful organisms. The FDA will be aggressive in its environmental monitoring and sampling under the food safety guidelines and regulations required by FSMA. Facilities will be closely monitored and tracked using the national laboratory network PulseNet, allowing foodborne illness cases to be traced back to the contaminated production facility or field of origin. With increased scrutiny and liability, more food processors have been reevaluating their entire food safety programs in order to close any gaps that exist, many starting with their environmental monitoring and sanitation programs. With scientific advances allowing for enhanced environmental monitoring, food processors are learning more about their environment and how successful their sanitation program really is.
Join this session, where professional engineer Paul Lorcheim will discuss the new regulations for the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act. Paul will cover the shortcomings of the food industry’s sanitation methods and will discuss the new techniques to help prevent sanitation issues.
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Paul Lorcheim, P.E. is a licensed professional engineer and had worked in the pharmaceutical industry for over 20 years. He has been with ClorDiSys Solutions, Inc. since 2001 as Director of Operations directing the operation, validation and commercialization of various decontaminating and sterilization equipment for the pharmaceutical, life science and food industry.