Top Five Records presents Top 10 food safety issues – 2008

Casey Jacob’s been working full-time with me for the past six months. We got  a bunch of papers coming out and she’s developing into a fairly decent writer. So here’s Casey’s version of the Top 10 food safety stories of 2008.

1. Salmonella in tomatoes/peppers – problems with tracing sources of produce
Companies that can provide efficient traceability systems for their products provide an advantage to the retail food service sector during recall and outbreak situations.

2. Melamine in Chinese infant formula – know your suppliers
Buyers need to know their suppliers, the risks that might be associated with their products, and how they should be managed. Suppliers should be able to demonstrate the safety of their products and processes, and have programs in place to manage risks.

3. Listeria in deli meats and soft cheeses — should vulnerable populations be warned?
Beginning in July, 20 Canadians were killed and dozens were sickened by an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes in deli meats produced by Maple Leaf Foods.
Most of the deaths were related to the consumption of deli meats in places like nursing homes that were unaware of the recommendation that immunocompromised individuals avoid deli meats to reduce the risk of Listeria, unless they are thoroughly heated. Pregnant women are also advised to avoid unheated deli meats, soft cheeses, and other refrigerated ready-to-eat foods that can foster the growth of Listeria. Warnings for vulnerable young, elderly, ill, or pregnant. people on product labels or menus may provide information for those populations to make informed choices.

4. Restaurant inspection disclosure systems on the rise
The food service sector should recognize that certain diners are interested in the information provided by inspection reports and summaries. This increase in transparency highlights the importance of maintaining or improving. compliance with food safety regulations during inspections.

5. Downer abuse in California –poor animal welfare can impact business
It’s not enough for a producer or processor to say they are doing the right thing; they will have to be able to prove it using techniques like video surveillance. It is expected that proof of actions will become increasingly demanded and adopted over the next year.

6. Patrons use cell phone cameras to document food safety issues
Public health authorities in Toronto, Canada, shut down one of Chinatown’s most prominent restaurants after a passerby took a photo of rats on a countertop in February.

7. E. coli O157:H7 linked to UK butchers – no food safety culture and lax inspection
Creating a culture of food safety within an organization where all members from executives to front-line staff. have a set of shared values around risks will be come increasingly important for the foodservice sector.

8. Pot pies and chicken thingies – the danger of microwave use and the difficulties of consumer communication
USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) issued a public health alert in March advising the public of a salmonellosis outbreak associated with frozen, stuffed raw chicken products in Minnesota—the sixth of its kind since 1998.
 It may be prudent to blatantly inform consumers through product package labeling that if products contained are raw and should, therefore, not be prepared in the microwave.

9. Outbreaks at several universities — outbreak communication strategies

Several outbreaks of illness occurred at university campuses where communication departments were slow to take responsibility.

10. Sourcing locally – don’t make assumptions about safety

Organizations and individuals are making commitments to utilize local food sources. However, there is little discussion surrounding the microbiological safety of such food.  All foods, regardless of the location, should be sourced from trusted sources that provide evidence of safe practices, and claims regarding the safety of food should made in conjunction with sound data.