across functions and departments. In this way, food scientists, process
engineers, packaging professionals and others are working together to
identify issues and develop solutions that result in safer products.”
HGS also holds a Future of Packaging consortium every three years to
discuss food safety and related technologies 10 to 20 years in the future.
“Detection is definitely much better than it has been in the past,” says
Deidre Schlunegger, CEO of STOP Foodborne Illness, a Chicago-based
national non-profit organization with a mission dedicated to preventing illness and death from foodborne pathogens.
“When I go in and look at the number of cases of listeria, culturally confirmed cases by the CDC, they’ve been about the same over
the last few years, but when it comes to outbreaks, the CDC listed two
outbreaks in 2015, and so far in 2016 they’ve listed four already,” she
says, adding that it is important to remember that many food poisoning
incidents are not reported.
“With listeria you don’t see as many incidences as you do with salmonella or other pathogens, but close to 95 percent of the people who are
diagnosed with listeria are hospitalized and 30 percent die, so it is much
more deadly than other infections,” Schlunegger says.
Foodborne pathogen incidences can be reduced when retailers and
manufacturers are very vigilant about testing, she adds. “Really it comes
down to the companies making sure they have a very, very strong food
safety culture and commitment to food safety in their company, all the
way down from the CEO to frontline employees. That is really the most
critical piece,” she says.
Scrutiny will be tightening up under new regulations that are part of
the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) being implemented by the
Food and Drug Administration.
“Before the FSMA the FDA did not have the authority to issue man-
datory recalls,” says Debra Strauss, professor of business law at Fairfield
University in Fairfield, Conn. “It was only a matter of recommending
voluntary recalls with the initiative on the plants to do that. Expanding
the FDA’s authority to issue recalls, do inspections and promulgating
these additional rules require things that are more preventative. That is
the focus of the FSMA that is most significant.”
Newer processing methods and innovations promise to reduce inci-
dences of recalls and foodborne illness even further.
Sealed Air Corp. has developed a Bulk Cheese Portion Pull wrapping for deli cheeses that allows clerks to pull off one section of Cryovac
plastic wrapping at a time. “The clerk then slices that section and the
rest stays on nice and tight and doesn’t dry out or spoil,” says Jerry Kelly,
national business development manager – Retail Task Force Food Care
at Duncan, S.C.-based Sealed Air Corp.
“For meats, our Cryovac Grip & Tear helps with food safety because
otherwise clerks will have to use a knife to open all of their different
meat packages, leading to cross-contamination,” Kelly says.
An increasing number of manufacturers of deli products, juices, guacamole and hummus are turning to HPP (High Pressure Processing)
where packaged foods are placed in a container that is filled with water
SEEK & DESTROY
There has not been a significant
outbreak of listeria in packaged processed meats in more than a dozen
years, thanks in large part to the
team led by John N. Butts, Ph.D., vice
president of research at Land O‘Frost,
which developed the “Seek &
Destroy” process that has since been
adopted across the meat industry.
For his work, Butts was the 2016 Food Safety Leadership
Awards Recipient for Lifetime Achievement from NSF
International, the leading certifier of Global Food Safety
schemes among the agriculture, processing, food equipment,
restaurant and retail industries for more than 70 years. The
award recognizes leaders within the food industry who have
made significant contributions to advancing food safety.
Butts was selected for his role as a food safety advocate
and food processing scientist with more than 40 years of experience creating innovative food protection solutions.
“We are incredibly proud to
have Dr. John Butts as a mem-
ber of the Land O’Frost family for
many years and we have ben-
efited greatly from his wisdom,
passion and deep commitment
to innovation,” says David Van
Eekeren, president and CEO of
Munster, Ind.-based Land O’Frost,
a manufacturer of pre-sliced,
prepackaged lunchmeats and
specialty sausage products. “His impact on the greater food
industry, including his work to champion the policy of sharing
best practices across companies, cannot be overstated. It is
truly fitting that he be honored with this award.”
Butts commissioned the team that developed Land O’Frost’s
“Seek & Destroy” (S&D) process to identify and destroy Listeria
monocytogenes growth niches. That process has since been
adopted across the meat industry in partnership with the North
American Meat Institute. S&D entails regularly disassembling
machinery for cleaning to eliminate pathogens that may grow
and harbor inside the guts of the machinery. At Land O’Frost,
the team meets weekly at every plant to address potential food
Butts also introduced technologies to minimize transfer within
high-risk areas and implemented Hazard Analysis and Critical
Control Points (HACCP) well before they became mandated
by the USDA. He has also helped numerous other companies
integrate scientific principles and food technology in real-world
manufacturer settings to enhance food safety, assure product
quality and deliver efficient solutions.
In 2012, Butts established Food Safety By Design, a private
consulting firm that helps producers of high risk products learn
how to prevent and manage food safety risks.
Dr. John Butts
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