Staying ahead of industry food trends is an essential component of our jobs in the food safety industry.
As the grand prize winner in 3M’s Canada’s Food Safety Division “Under the Microscope Contest”, I attended the 2019 International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) Annual Meeting in Louisville, Kentucky and learned about the latest solutions to food safety problems that we face in our industry.
Here is what I learned after attending the event at IAFP:
- Microbial antibiotic resistance can be a significant challenge.
Every food safety expert must be aware of the potential microbial antibiotic resistance to salmonella, campylobacter, and E. coli in food products. For example, when livestock is processed or plants are harvested, the bacteria could get transferred to other material in the chain, which could potentially disrupt your production schedule.
Using antibiotics on a farm can produce resistant strains of microbes1. There are a few ways that this problem can be addressed, and it is important for food safety experts to stay current on best practices and solutions. For instance, having comprehensive good manufacturing practices (GMPs) in place can be helpful. Vaccinating livestock can reduce the need for antibiotics, however, when antibiotics must be administered, it’s important to rotate the use of antibiotics to decrease the chances of the livestock building a resistance to them2.
- End-consumers remain accountable for helping keep food safe.
At the very end of the supply chain, end-consumers continue to have a big impact on the safety of their food products. As a result, the need for education of end-consumers about their role in ensuring that the food they are eating is safe is important.
For example, we can outline what internal temperature various foods should be cooked to. Cleaning and washing hands, utensils, cutting boards, and other food-contact surfaces are equally important to guarantee that proper safety methods are followed. Raw products must be kept separate from ready-to-eat products to help prevent the spread of microbes between them.
Besides the labels on our products, a dialogue must be initiated with consumers to make sure that there is a greater awareness about food safety and that the necessary procedures are followed.
- The possible impact of climate change on food safety within the food and beverage industry.
In the future, a major concern will be how climate change can affect our industry. Altered survival mechanisms and transmission patterns of microbes due to factors such as humidity and temperature should be taken into consideration. Algae blooms, increased levels of moulds, and bacterial adaptation are some factors that climate change can affect3. Food producers will have to continue to analyze their risk assessments, surveillance, and monitoring processes for food safety testing.
Commonality and collaboration are key to help ensure food safety.
Food safety professionals all have a common goal in the food safety industry to protect the food supply, and by sharing interests, experiences, and knowledge, and key learnings, we can continually advance the food safety industry.
We should not only share resources and information, but we must also identify weak points in our food safety plans to help better the industry. I would definitely participate in an event like IAFP again.
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