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Posts from the ‘Food Safety’ Category

Prevent Food Poisoning Outbreaks with FSMA and Environmental Monitoring

JulianHough_Blog_Image Julian Hough | Product Marketing Communication Specialist
Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Symptoms of a foodborne illness outbreak

For companies involved in food handling, the potential symptoms of a food poisoning outbreak include: local or national recalls; fines; legal action; potential financial losses; and tarnished brand reputations. With this in mind, compliance with new regulations and laws regarding food safety and the use of facility-wide environmental monitoring are your best protections against these symptoms.

A serious problem

Food poisoning is a major cause of death in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), foodborne illnesses affect 48 million Americans annually, resulting in 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. And in an age of 24/7 news coverage, any food poisoning outbreak can put a company under a harsh public relations spotlight. In 2015, at least 64 people contracted salmonella from tomatoes at a Mexican quick-serve restaurant. It resulted in two class action lawsuits and eroded consumer trust. A top-selling ice cream brand recalled all of its products in 2017 when 10 reported cases of listeria resulted in three deaths. In late 2018, all of the romaine lettuce in the U.S. was pulled from stores for a month while the CDC searched for the source of its e-coli contamination. The fact is, health officials, the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will work to track down the source of virtually all food poisoning outbreaks all the way down the supply chain and cold chain.

The risk comes from not seeing the problems

All too often, the processors found at fault had no idea they were putting consumers at risk. Like all processors, they have to balance the cost and burden of ensuring food safety while still maintaining a profitable business. But many have little way of knowing — or the data to warn them — that they were not maintaining safe handling procedures nor providing a safe environment for food safety.

FSMA: addressing the problem

With the signing of the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) in 2011, a series of regulations set out seven steps to prevent food poisoning outbreaks through prevention programs and environmental monitoring. The FSMA reflected the need for a modern, global food safety system, “a system in which industry is systematically, every day, putting in place the measures that we know are effective in preventing contamination” (Michael R. Taylor, FDA deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, 2015).

Regulations like the FSMA are often regarded as an expensive burden. But when you realize that food poisoning outbreaks cost the food processing industry $75 billion per year, investing in preventing problems rather than paying for the consequences makes FSMA compliance an economic imperative.

That’s why Emerson  has been tirelessly working to help ensure our Cooper-Atkins products and solutions are in compliance with FSMA mandates, and providing environmental monitoring systems and end-to-end data services that help control and manage food safety anywhere in the cold chain.

How does the FSMA affect you?

New laws were passed in 2016 to bolster the 2011 FSMA for both large and small FDA-registered companies. To comply, companies must:

At Emerson, we have the expertise, products and systems to help you implement fully compliant HARPC systems and controls, as well as consult on your cGMP education and training programs.  Emerson’s Cooper Atkins business specializes in advanced environmental monitoring systems.

The importance of environmental monitoring

There are many areas along the processing chain where food may be compromised. Storing, receiving and holding food-related items at a temperature that prohibits bacterial growth are required parts of your company’s HARPC plan, making integrated, wireless environmental monitoring systems a must-have.

Processing facilities that invest in integrated, wireless temperature monitoring systems benefit in numerous ways:

  • Eliminating manual labor
  • Streamlining the collection of environmental data
  • Creating custom reporting
  • Complying with new FSMA laws and FDA rulings

As a leading manufacturer of wireless monitoring solutions, Emerson offers a range of environmental monitoring systems through our Cooper-Atkins business. TempTrak Enterprise® is a facility-wide solution that can monitor an unlimited number of points in unlimited locations — all from one software platform. NotifEye® kits are affordable, streamlined and self-installed systems for more localized operations. Both are exception-based systems: they only send out alerts when preset limits are exceeded, saving time and labor while protecting your inventory and, more importantly, brand integrity.

An investment in protection

When you look at the human cost of food poisoning outbreaks, as well as the millions of dollars in recall costs and destroyed reputations, FSMA compliance and facility-wide environmental monitoring and data systems become a highly cost-effective investment. With compliance and a data trail, you can not only prevent foodborne outbreaks, but also verify compliance and protect your brand.

Julian Hough is a product marketing specialist with Cooper-Atkins, a business unit of Emerson that has been manufacturing temperature monitoring equipment for 130 years.

 

How Data Loggers Streamline Food Safety Compliance

JulianHough_Blog_Image Julian Hough | Product Marketing Communication Specialist
Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Imagine if you had enough money to put 8.5 million people through four years of private college at an average annual cost of $30k. The same amount would buy a Prius at its sticker price of $23,810 — for roughly 40 percent of American families. That’s what $1.6 trillion buys, and the combined amount that Americans spent in 2015 on food and beverages in grocery stores and dining out.1

Today’s tech-savvy millennials are acutely aware of the food they consume. When an outbreak of foodborne illness occurs, the subjects of food safety and consumer health immediately become top news stories. And CEOs are taking notice. In a 2017 interview, McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook stated, “Food safety is McDonald’s number one priority.”2

Food safety regulations and compliancy

In 2011, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) implemented the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) under President Obama’s leadership; these laws were updated in 2016 to enforce best practices. Industry standards such as Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls (HARPC) and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) were designed to help food processors identify, control and prevent hazards through a systematic approach. HACCP compliance is currently mandatory for meat, poultry, seafood, dairy and juice processors in the United States, as well as retail food services. Because of its success in the food and meat industries, HACCP plans are also being applied to non-food industries.

Under the existing FSMA 2016 mandates, FDA-registered food facilities, manufacturing facilities and processors must:

  • Establish and maintain food safety systems that comply with HACCP/HARPC plans
  • Verify the controls are effective by monitoring, testing and taking corrective actions and documenting the outcomes
  • Maintain risk-based supply chain programs for raw materials and ingredients and provide education and training to employees

With the goal of proactively preventing foodborne illness outbreaks rather than reacting after the fact, FSMA laws helped established a positive path forward. The rise of wireless data-logging technologies has since been embraced by a spectrum of processing facilities — from meat and dairy processors to laboratories — to help maintain compliance.

Why do you need data loggers? 

Data loggers have becoming essential tools that facility managers can use to independently verify information in food retail and processing facilities. By identifying environmental factors that could affect product quality and invalidate food safety plans, data loggers help facility managers meet compliance standards, as well as monitor other key facility metrics, such as: energy conservation, recordkeeping in a cold storage facility, or air handler cycle frequencies.

Traditional methods used to monitor critical limits and maintain an accurate recordkeeping system come with drawbacks. Typically, these are strip chart recorder (with moving parts) or a thermometer that requires an employee to manually check and document conditions. It’s easy to see how these methods are inadequate and threaten the integrity of food safety plans. Alternatively, data loggers do not rely on mechanical, moving parts or constant manual attention from employees.

Temperature monitoring is especially critical for compliance with USDA and FDA regulations. Data loggers can be implemented into HACCP plans to easily achieve this goal. Since each HACCP plan is unique to each facility, the data logging solution is dependent upon an end user’s specific application requirements. This not only saves, time, energy and money, but it also helps facility managers comply with new regulations.

How do data loggers work?

Data loggers are electronic measurement instruments that record environmental parameters such as temperature, humidity, pressure, pH and much more. Data is retrieved through a wireless connection or downloaded directly to a PC. There, records of the data are generated in graphical and tabular formats and include date and time stamps to fulfill compliance requirements. These records can then be saved electronically or printed to provide to the appropriate regulatory agencies to prove a facility’s compliance.

Data loggers are a cost-effective means of extremely accurate data collection and recordkeeping over long periods of time and in extreme environments. To ensure data accuracy, most data-logging companies provide services to maintain the correct and consistent calibration of devices. A calibration certificate indicates the date and condition of the services, providing the documentation required by most regulatory agencies to prove proper periodic calibration.

Choosing a data logger provider

For more than 130 years, Cooper-Atkins has built a reputation as a trusted provider of environmental monitoring solutions. As a leading manufacturer in the field, Cooper-Atkins recently added state-of-the-art, data-logging technology to its stable of HACCP-compliant, wireless monitoring products.

According to Scott D’Aniello, vice president of industrial and food processing for Cooper-Atkins, there is no room for guesswork in the food supply chain.

“Good data is essential to controlling production and creating a consistently high-quality product,” he said.

Cooper-Atkins was awarded the prestigious “Global Supplier of the Year 2015” by McDonald’s.

“This recognition speaks volumes about who we are and how we can help facility managers. Today’s technological innovations are helping to ease the burden and keep food safe for consumers,” said D’Aniello.

Click here to learn more about Cooper-Atkins data loggers.

Highlighting Smart Systems for National Food Safety Education Month

Ed_McKiernan Ed McKiernan | President, Cold Chain, Electronics & Solutions

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

September is National Food Safety Education Month. With food safety emerging as a top priority for retailers and store operators, we’re looking at how evolving technology and solutions are giving industry leaders opportunities to streamline their operations and ensure safety. To read the full article, which was featured in Convenience Store News, click here.

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Health-conscious lifestyles and food safety are top priorities for a growing number of consumers, forcing food retailers and producers to focus on implementing solutions and strategies that help ensure food is safe throughout its supply chain journey. Smart technology has evolved to help them automate critical tasks and meet increasingly stringent regulatory requirements.

Automated temperature monitoring and management capabilities are some of the best ways to maintain food safety from harvest and processing to transportation, post-processing, distribution and receiving. Since it’s Food Safety Education Month, we feel it’s an especially good time to highlight a few examples of food safety modernization.

Small trackers, big results

Rather than manually recording temperatures at load and unload or using analog sensors to detect out-of-range temperatures, leading growers are transitioning to using real-time trackers at the transportation level to determine optimal conditions for food freshness. These trackers are about the size of a deck of cards and monitor freshness throughout the entire food journey.

Maximize refrigerated shipping container lifespans

Because refrigerated shipping containers have both a high value and long-life expectations, maximizing their lifespans is crucial. By implementing remote monitoring systems for intermodal containers, shipping companies can detect problems with the compressor, system runtimes, interior temperature or lighting conditions and route the container for repair whenever needed. This same data can also be used to monitor perishable food conditions within the container.

Continuous temperature tracking

Food safety can be compromised, even after relatively short periods of temperature deviations. Now, temperature conditions can be recorded and monitored throughout the entire journey to a retail destination and, upon arrival, can connect automatically to Wi-Fi based systems for instant validation of safety.

Incorporating IoT

IoT and cloud-based solutions have emerged as necessary tools to maintaining food safety. These technologies enable data storage in the cloud and provide operators throughout the food supply chain with information to help maximize efficiency and ensure that perishable food is always kept safe.

Given the transparency that consumers are demanding about the food they’re eating, supply chain stakeholders are almost certain to make better use of automated and shared data by applying temperature management, data gathering and other IoT/cloud-based solutions across the entire food supply chain. Large retailers are also likely to embrace an interconnected approach to capturing data at every step to help drive consumer confidence.

This is an extremely dynamic period in cold chain history. As the industry moves to a more data-driven paradigm, we will undoubtedly discover improved methods of operation and new ways to engage and protect consumers. In recent years, Emerson has focused on expanding our capabilities across every domain within the cold chain to support this shift because we know the importance of providing data and information insights as food travels along its journey from farm to fork.

National Food Safety Education Month is a reminder of the importance of recognizing the efforts required to maintain food safety throughout the cold chain. Emerson focuses on these challenges every day: developing new technologies, strategies, solutions and products that not only help to optimize your operations, but also deliver the safest and freshest product possible.

 

Using Data to Fortify Food Safety

ronchapek_2 Ron Chapek | Director of Product Management/Enterprise Software

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Emerson’s ProAct™ food quality-report service grants convenience store owners and operators the opportunity to focus on customers’ needs and to build relationships without sacrificing food safety. For more information, watch the video in its entirety.

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For convenience store chains entering the foodservice business, their reputations are built upon their ability to deliver consistently fresh, high-quality, new food offerings. To accurately maintain this freshness and quality, store operators must have the capability to automate the monitoring and reporting of product case and food temperatures.

Formerly, operators would stake their quality and freshness reputations on unreliable and error-prone manual recording and tracking methods. Now, with the help of Emerson’s ProAct food quality-report service, food and case temperatures can be monitored automatically and easily rolled up into daily reports.

ProAct helps operators define the critical control points for their operation. In-case temperature sensors record the refrigerated case temperature data which is then converted into web-based reports that showcase hourly fixture temperatures, giving users the tools to help analyze and verify critical quality indicators easily and effectively.

The daily reports show hourly temperatures for cases, product probes and other monitoring points. Deviations from acceptable thresholds are highlighted in the report, along with defrost cycles and other key information. And since the food quality-report service eliminates the need for manual temperature monitoring, employees are free to focus their efforts on customer service and other aspects of the business that enable increased productivity.

Having access to these detailed reports gives operators the opportunity to manage tedious but critical details, to help ensure the health of their customers and to protect their reputation. ProAct food quality-report service is a positive addition to any food quality control system, including the internationally recognized HACCP methodology.

Pairing the food quality-report service with ProAct alarm management and setpoint management services helps ensure that retailers are maintaining food freshness and quality at every level and allows more focus to be placed on maintaining and developing customer relationships and other critical areas of the business.

Using Technology to Ensure Food Supply Chain Safety

markdunson Mark Dunson | Group President, Electronics & Solutions

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Food safety is more prominent than ever in the minds of consumers. Evolving technology is giving industry leaders opportunities to streamline their operations, while government regulations are emphasizing the need for security in food safety. To read the full article featured in Food Safety Magazine, click here.

The human Equation of Facility Management

With trends shifting toward health-conscious lifestyles, consumers have become much more discriminatory about the quality (and especially) the safety of the food they eat. The concept of food supply chain traceability has allowed food producers to ensure food safety at every step of food’s journey along the supply chain and provide consumers with transparency about the food they’re eating.

Along with consumer preferences, there are also regulatory drivers pushing for better traceability. The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), enacted in 2011 by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), introduced the most sweeping changes in food safety legislation in recent history. With the FSMA, the FDA had a legislative mandate to help secure food safety throughout the entire supply chain — with renewed emphases on temperature management, tracking and recording. Despite uncertainty in terms of the rigor in which the ruling will be enforced, many businesses are getting ahead of legal enforcement and have already begun adopting changes.

Driven by new temperature management technologies and a desire to adhere to FSMA guidelines, automated temperature monitoring is finding broader adoption throughout the supply chain — from harvest and processing to transportation, post-processing, distribution and receiving. Here are a few examples:

Transportation pallet tracking

Many leading growers have transitioned to using real-time trackers the size of a deck of cards at the transportation pallet level to determine conditions for food freshness throughout its journey. Previous methods included hand-recording temperatures at load and unload, or analog sensors that changed colors to detect out-of-range temperatures.

Refrigerated container management

Shipping companies are deploying remote monitoring systems for intermodal containers. When they detect problems with the compressor, system runtimes, interior temperature or lighting conditions, they can route the container for repair. This same data is also valuable to monitor the condition of perishable foods transported within the container.

Automated systems in final distribution

Even short periods of out-of-range temperatures potentially increase food safety risks. Loggers record temperature conditions throughout the journey to a retail destination and connect automatically to Wi-Fi based systems at a final receiving point to provide nearly instant validation of safety. Shorter trips mean there’s less of a need for always-on functionality, potentially reducing the cost of the solution.

Retail stores and restaurants

Building controls are gaining additional adoption outside the grocer space to help maintain food safety. Even systems that still rely on manual actions by store employees can be augmented with IoT- and cloud-based solutions, allowing for direct recording to the cloud and providing store operators with information that can be leveraged to help manage FSMA’s food safety/documentation requirements.

What’s next in food safety? It’s a safe bet to assume that stakeholders throughout the supply chain will make better use of automated and shared data, applying temperature management and data gathering solutions to the entire food supply chain, rather than individual silos. It’s also becoming more likely that the world’s largest retailers will voluntarily seek approaches that embrace a more complete food chain interdependence — including the needs to capture and share data at every step. Food quality and safety are becoming true brand differentiators, and the effective use of temperature management automation throughout the supply chain could go a long way toward helping build consumer confidence.

To read the full article featured in Food Safety Magazine, click here.

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