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pathogen testing

Food Safety News 5-27-19

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Editor’s note: This is part of a series on food safety costs for businesses. The series is sponsored by CERTUS Food Safety. This piece explores considerations when choosing a pathogen testing program.

It’s pretty simple – food compromises are bad for business, says Chief Scientific Officer Douglas Marshall, Ph.D., CFS for Eurofins Microbiology Laboratories Inc.

“If a food brand is splashed in the news for a recall or an outbreak, not only is it going to affect that particular brand or that particular product produced, but it’s going to affect everything else that’s attached to that brand,” states Marshall. There’s the cost of the recall, lawyers and potential criminal financial liabilities – not to mention civil lawsuits from the victims.”

There are significant financial ramifications for missing the mark when it comes to the integrity of food released to the market – making pathogen testing a linchpin in the overall success of a business.

However, the not so simple part of this cost of doing business is figuring out a pathogen testing strategy that best suits environmental monitoring program needs and any required customer or government standards – while still allowing the company to turn a profit.

Third party laboratories and in-house laboratories based in a central location to serve a company’s multiple manufacturing sites are industry standard, says Marshall. As technology advances, in-house pathogen testing kits are also making their way to market.

 

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Food Safety News 5-20-19

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Editor’s note: This is part of a series on food safety costs for businesses. The series is sponsored by CERTUS Food Safety. This piece explores different pathogen testing methods for environmental monitoring.

As food safety regulations have improved and increased within the last decade, a technology boom has given the industry access to more accurate and efficient pathogen testing methods, says Erin Crowley, chief scientific officer for Q Laboratories Inc.

“This has been a welcome development for our industry, but it can be overwhelming to navigate through the different types and their various workflows,” Crowley explains.

While some pathogen testing methods, otherwise known as assays, are designed to give rapid results in the matter of a few hours, others can take days to process. However, depending on what is being sampled (also referred to as an analyte) and what pathogen it is being analysed for, each assay has an important place in an environmental monitoring program.

Crowley outlined four common pathogen testing methods.

1. Immunoassay
“Immunoassays are based on the principles that specific antigens will stimulate very specific (unique) immune responses and that the proteins produced by the immune response – called antibodies – can be used to signal the presence of a target compound in a sample,” explains Crowley. 

According to her, there are two types of immunoassays: sandwich and competitive. 

Sandwich assays use two antibodies to bind a specific target. One antibody is typically immobilized to a solid support such as nitrocellulose membranes found in lateral flow test strips. This can also be done with a microtiter plate which allows for specific antibody collection, commonly referred to as the ELISA (enzyme linked immunosorbent) test. Each test operates on a visual reporter system, with a lateral flow test signalling pathogen presence with line intensity, explains Crowley. Enzymes used for an ELISA test will catalyze a reaction, changing the solution a different color on the microtiter plate, allowing for an optical density assessment. 

Recently a new real time rapid pathogen detection system has been introduced based on Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS) technology. SERS generates signals that are measured in the near infrared wavelengths where absorption of complex samples such as food is minimal.

 

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Food Safety News 5-13-19

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Editor’s note: This is part of a series on food safety costs for businesses. The series is sponsored by CERTUS Food Safety. This piece explores the development of effective sanitation practices.

When developing and implementing a comprehensive sanitation program, food companies need to relentlessly look for pathogens, rather than swabbing to satisfy compliance requirements, says Food Safety Specialist

“The biggest mistake I see when doing an initial audit of a food company’s sanitation program is that they are not trying to find problems,” explains Dunn. “Rather than looking for a specific pathogen, like listeria, and looking for specific pathogens in high risk areas, the company will stick to a standard set of swabs and not deviate this practice when consistently receiving negative results.”

Instead, food companies need to be approaching it with the mindset that pathogens are present – and must do everything possible to find them, prevent them from contaminating product and find a solution to mitigate any future risks.

According to Dunn, this requires a strategic Environmental Monitoring Program (EMP) to assess the effectiveness of current sanitation practices and to gather and analyze required data to implement corrective actions.

 “Look at it as one big defensive line. Your EMP program is always going to be paramount to knowing where your issues are and leading into those corrective actions – which is usually where things fall short. You know you have an issue and put all corrective actions through your verification process. But, how do you take your swabs, your vector swabs and follow-up? A lot of facilities have issues with closing those corrective actions now because so many of them are redundant depending on how many swabs you had,” he explains. “EMP should ensure follow-up swabs, and that high risk areas are focused on. It should also ensure additional non-routine swabs are being introduced, with results reported to the food safety team. It goes hand-in-hand with a food-safety program – serving as a blueprint of how a facility operates.”

Create an EMP team
Through his experience of working with individual companies on EMP, Dunn has found one of the most effective ways to create and execute a comprehensive program is to create a designated EMP team. This should include “owners” of specific aspects, like quality and sanitation managers, to be the driving force behind EMP practices related to their area of the operation. 

 

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Food Safety News 5-6-19

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Editor’s note: This is the first installment of a series on food safety costs for businesses. The series is sponsored by CERTUS Food Safety. This piece explores the question: Are hidden costs eating away business profits?

When analyzing the cost required to run a profitable food processing facility, expenses like staff, equipment, and facility maintenance tend to be the most carefully examined. However, hidden costs caused by inefficient processes may be having a knock-on effect on the overall profit margin of a business.

John Bodner, PhD, Director of Product Development for CERTUS Food Safety, says there is a huge opportunity for food processing companies to save time and money by making investments into their food safety programs. According to Bodner, one of the most impactful, yet easily achieved process changes is to bring pathogen testing in-house.

“Pathogen testing is one of the most important elements of a food business. It can also be one of the greatest contributors to hidden costs when sourced to an outside lab. Sample collection, supplies, shipping and lab fees add up very quickly,” Bodner says. “However, it’s the cost of time that is dipping into business profits the most.”

While timing varies amongst test methods, it’s common for businesses who outsource testing to experience a delay of 48-96 hours from the start of pathogen testing to receiving results – not including the time it takes to transport samples from the producer site to the lab. This can be mitigated, explains Bodner, by bringing pathogen testing in-house. Depending on the test, there are in-house pathogen testing products on the market capable of delivering results in a span of 8-24 hours.

“The sooner the result, the sooner a plant can commence remediation at the site of the presumptive positive findings. The sooner they can conduct vector analyses to find the root source. The sooner they can resample the area based on their Pathogen Environmental Monitoring Program (PEMP) to verify the destruction of the offending organism,” he says.

“Not to mention, the sooner the result – the sooner the business can release their product. Paying for storage to maintain the product until it can be released is a hidden cost that can easily creep into a business. Getting actionable results sooner allows for less storage time and the ability to move inventory sooner.”

Food safety is an investment
Developing an effective PEMP should be viewed as an investment instead of a cost, says Bodner. Food companies should take a comprehensive approach, selecting the most capable personnel to contribute to HACCP, GFSI and lab personnel teams. This should also include evaluating the need for laboratory equipment and a cost-benefit analysis of using a third-party lab.

“Food producers need to make the investment to protect consumers and their brand. Brand reputation is significant in any business, but in the food industry it takes on added importance given the products’ potential to negatively impact human health,” concludes Bodner. “Beyond damage to the brand, there are legal and financial consequences. Investments must be made to mitigate risk and expedite business to provide customers with a safe product.”

 

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CERTUS Live Demos at Food Safety Summit
Rosemont, IL | May 7-9 | Booth 613

Quality Assurance & Food Safety 4-8-19

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CERTUS Releases Empower Pathogen Environmental Monitoring Software

Chicago-based Certus, innovators in rapid pathogen detection, has released Empower environmental monitoring software, an intuitive platform providing food producers a cost-effective solution with value-added quality management features. At no additional or ongoing costs, the company said, Empower combines a complete pathogen test workflow with a comprehensive facility management system, allowing producers to improve food safety and build customer trust by efficiently planning, testing, remediating, and tracking results within their production plants.

“Empower addresses two traditional barriers food producers face when investing in a facility management software: ease of use and cost,” said Certus President John Coomes. “Today, smartphone simplicity is the standard and that was the driving force when we designed Empower. The Certus mission is to put smart pathogen environmental control at your fingertips with no additional cost or subscription fees.”

Providing robust facility management features to food producers of all sizes, the company said, Empower levels the playing field when it comes to environmental monitoring, while building trust with customers who expect the latest technology in food safety.

As an integral component of Certus’s in-house pathogen detection system, Empower software is installed on the Control Pad (9.7-inch iPad) that is a vital complementary component of the Certus System. The software guides technicians through daily testing protocol, including sample locations and step-by-step workflow directions. While sensitive customer data is securely stored in the Certus Detection Unit, Empower communicates wirelessly with the Detection Unit to initiate tests, monitor progress, record results, and alert stakeholders instantly with text and email messages.

The company explained that Empower integrates a producer’s schedule with a unique facility map for complete visibility by production staff directing when and where to perform the day’s environmental monitoring sampling; tracks testing records and corrective actions while providing easy-to-create custom reports for internal, client, and regulatory audits; includes real-time and comprehensive quality management features to give stakeholders insight into problem areas that may require proactive correction.

The release of Empower builds on the company’s cornerstone Certus System which achieved AOAC Performance Tested certification in October 2018. The combination of AOAC certification and Empower software provides food processing plants further assurance with the effectiveness and efficiency of Certus’s in-house environmental monitoring process for Listeria spp.

A limited number of Certus Systems are now available. Food processors interested in learning how to integrate the Certus System and Empower monitoring software into their facilities can schedule a complimentary, in-person consultation at certusfoodsafety.com/consultation.

Associated Press 4-8-19

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CERTUS™ Releases Empower™ Pathogen Environmental Monitoring Software Providing Strengthened and Streamlined In-House Control

CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Apr 8, 2019–CERTUS, innovators in rapid pathogen detection, announces the release of Empower environmental monitoring software, an intuitive platform providing food producers a cost-effective solution with value-added quality management features. At no additional or ongoing costs, Empower combines a complete pathogen test workflow with a comprehensive facility management system, allowing producers to improve food safety and build customer trust by efficiently planning, testing, remediating, and tracking results within their production plants.

This press release features multimedia. View the full release here: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20190408005023/en/

Empower combines a complete pathogen test workflow with a comprehensive facility management system, allowing producers to improve food safety and build customer trust by efficiently planning, testing, remediating, and tracking results within their production plants. (Photo: Business Wire)

“Empower addresses two traditional barriers food producers face when investing in a facility management software: ease of use and cost,” said CERTUS president, John Coomes. “Today, smartphone simplicity is the standard and that was the driving force when we designed Empower. The CERTUS mission is to put smart pathogen environmental control at your fingertips with no additional cost or subscription fees.”

Providing robust facility management features to food producers of all sizes, Empower levels the playing field when it comes to environmental monitoring, while building trust with customers who expect the latest technology in food safety.

As an integral component of CERTUS’s in-house pathogen detection system, Empower software is installed on the Control Pad (9.7” iPad) that is a vital complementary component of the CERTUS System. The software guides technicians through daily testing protocol, including sample locations and step-by-step workflow directions. While sensitive customer data is securely stored in the CERTUS Detection Unit, Empower communicates wirelessly with the Detection Unit to initiate tests, monitor progress, record results, and alert stakeholders instantly with text and email messages.

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open PR 9-7-18

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Food Pathogen Testing Market Research by Leading Players

Press release from: Global Market Insights, Inc.

This comprehensive Global food pathogen testing market research report includes a brief on these trends that can help the businesses operating in the industry to understand the market and strategize for their business expansion accordingly. The food pathogen testing market research report analyzes the market size, industry share, growth, key segments, CAGR and key drivers.

Food Pathogen Testing Market size will cross USD 5.5 Billion by 2024; according to a new research report by Global Market Insights, Inc.

Necessity to ensure health & safety along with increasing consumer awareness has enhanced the food pathogen testing market growth. Growth in global processed meat & dairy industry along with increasing vegetables consumption will drive the industry demand.

Stringent safety norms by FDA, FAO and EU have enhanced the product demand. Government support along with rising influence of media reports on diseases caused due to contaminants are the key factors supporting food pathogen testing market size. The commercialization matrix of Food Pathogen Testing Market has witnessed a remarkable surge in recent years, augmented by the stringency in food regulations implemented by renowned organizations like FDA, FAO, and EU. Food giants are continuously brainstorming new manufacturing facilities that can quickly and efficiently detect the presence of pathogens in food. With the increasing consumer awareness with reference to food safety and hygiene, food processors and testing laboratories are shifting their focus toward the deployment of high performance and effective food pathogen testing technologies – a fact that would considerably impel food pathogen testing industry outlook in the ensuing year

Prominent players in market such as 3M and Certus are continuously developing robust and innovative food safety solutions for the F&B sector, the rising prominence of which would help boost this business space. As per analysts, the robustly expanding food industry is likely to stimulate food pathogen testing market size, which was pegged at a valuation of USD 3 billion in 2016.

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