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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.

 

Implications of the Food Safety Modernization Act

JamesMitchell2 James Mitchell | Product Manager, ProAct Enterprise Software and Services, Retail Solutions
Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was the most sweeping reform of food safety laws in more than 70 years. Its goal is to ensure that the U.S. food supply is safe by shifting the focus from responding to contamination to preventing it.  I recently contributed to an article featured in Refrigerated & Frozen Foods discussing the new food safety regulations and best practices for safe food transportation. Highlights from the article are below.

ImplicationsFoodSafetyModernizationAct_Facebook

FSMA has increased the responsibility on collecting and utilizing data, especially product temperature, to ensure that food remains fresh and safe from farm to table. Record keeping is a key component for FDA compliance which means supply chain partners will need to keep accurate documentation to verify the integrity of their foods. Connected solutions are a way to store and analyze data throughout the cold chain process enabling more effective operations and food quality reporting.

Food processors can do their part to ensure food safety during the transportation phase of the cold chain. Below are five best practices to leverage with these regulations in mind:

  1. Establish pre-cooling processes when the container is connected to the cold storage unit.
  2. Ensure perishable products are loaded in a manner that allows airflow in the container.
  3. Develop and communicate proper transport temperatures
  4. Integrate temperature monitoring device and placement procedures.
  5. Check temperature data upon receipt at the distribution center.

As food processors work to comply with FSMA, integrated controls and remote monitoring can assist in addressing potential food safety issues before products leave a processing facility.

Read the full article in Refrigerated & Frozen Foods online here.

For more than 20 years, Emerson has been helping businesses like yours safeguard food, reduce energy consumption, protect the environment and optimize business results. To learn more about our technology solutions and services for retailers, visit our website.

 

How Does the Food Safety Modernization Act Impact Food Retailers?

This is the third post in a five-part series on food safety throughout the month of September.

Food retailers need to understand changing regulations that impact their businesses. Today’s operators are faced with regulatory updates around energy management and refrigerants, as well as what many are calling the most sweeping reform of food safety laws since the last change was enacted in 1938.

fsma

The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which was signed into law in 2011, aims to better protect U.S. public health by strengthening the food safety system. This law enables the FDA to focus on preventing food safety problems, rather than relying primarily on reactive processes after problems occur.

FSMA affects five key areas, including:

  • Mandatory comprehensive, prevention-based controls for food facilities
  • Inspection and compliance to provide oversight and respond effectively when problems emerge
  • Authority to better ensure that imported products meet U.S. standards for food safety
  • Recall authority for all food products
  • Enhanced partnerships and collaboration among all food safety agencies

So, what does FSMA mean for food retail facilities?

As the regulations address the entire supply chain, not all provisions of this legislation apply to food retailers.  But retailers should review the law and its provisions because it places specific responsibilities and accountabilities on supply chain participants for actions and validation of processes.  Thus, grocers will need to work collaboratively with their food suppliers and transportation carriers to ensure that all suppliers are aware of what’s needed for food safety compliance. Some information that may be of highest interest to retailers includes:

  • Procedures to assure that facilities and vehicles used in processing and transport did not allow food to become unsafe or altered.
  • Documented food processing and transport safety programs.
  • Verification that supply chain employees were adequately trained on proper, safe temperature management during processing and transport.
  • Temperature monitoring and reporting that demonstrate food was processed and transported under safe temperature conditions.

As this legislation is new, how it will be enforced is yet to be seen.  Communication, collaboration and training among retailers and their supply chain partners will be essential as developments continue.

With FSMA, there is an increased importance on collecting and utilizing data, especially product temperatures, to ensure that food remains fresh and safe from the farm to the manufacturer to the store, and then into the hands of the consumer. Record keeping is a key component for FDA compliance, so retailers and their supply chain partners will need to ensure accurate, efficient documentation to verify the integrity of their foods.

As food retailers work to comply with industry regulations like FSMA, Emerson can serve as a trusted partner. Our retail facility solutions, including integrated controls and remote monitoring, can assist with preventive management of facility systems to address potential food safety issues before they affect the product in stores. Emerson’s transportation and cargo solutions also can help to provide consistent, safe monitoring and control of temperatures of food and other sensitive goods at critical points throughout the cold chain.

To follow the latest updates on FSMA, retailers may reference the FDA website. For more insights on changing regulations impacting retailers today, watch this E360 webinar recording.

Look for the next post in this series to learn more about integrated solutions to help retailers keep foods fresh – and safe – throughout the cold chain on the journey “from farm to fork.”

 For more than 20 years, Emerson Retail Solutions has been helping businesses like yours safeguard food, reduce energy consumption, protect the environment and optimize business results. To learn more about our technology solutions and services for retailers, visit our website.

Dean Landeche
Vice President of Marketing
Emerson Retail Solutions


To read all posts in our series on food safety for retailers, click on the links below:

  1. Food Safety Remains a Top Priority for Retail Businesses
  2. Prevent Food Safety Issues with Remote Monitoring Services
  3. How Does the Food Safety Modernization Act Impact Food Retailers?
  4. Food Safety Throughout the Cold Chain “From Farm to Fork”
  5. Seven Transportation Monitoring Best Practices to Ensure Food Safety

 

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