Ensuring Safety Across the Food Chain

In January 2011, President Obama signed the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) into law. FSMA, the most extensive update to food safety laws in the United States in more than 70 years, requires comprehensive tracking and tracing capabilities, and expands the FDA’s ability to access records during food emergencies. FSMA requires manufacturers to identify potential hazards and have prevention plans in place.

From the consumer perspective, the need for FSMA is clear, especially in light of well-publicized food-borne disease outbreaks in recent years. According to the CDC, one in six Americans gets sick from food-borne diseases each year—roughly 48 million people, 128,000 hospitalizations, and 3,000 deaths—all from illnesses that are largely preventable.

While food manufacturers adjust to the new realities of FSMA, processing and packaging suppliers are rolling out new technologies to help businesses stay ahead of the curve, and many will be featured this fall at PACK EXPO International 2012 (October 28-31, McCormick Place, Chicago). In addition to more than 1,800 exhibitors in over 1.1 million net square feet, attendees will also have access to sessions in The Conference at PACK EXPO and industry experts in the Food Safety Summit Resource Center to ensure they have all the information they need to achieve compliance.

A central goal of FSMA is to shift the food industry’s focus from contamination response to contamination prevention. FSMA is increasing demand for accurate product inspection on manufacturing lines. Pack Expo exhibitor Eagle Product Inspection, for example, provides inspection equipment for a large range of food processors and manufacturers, including confectionery, meat and dairy, produce, and baby food.

Eagle specializes in material discrimination X-ray, or MDX, a technology that enhances traditional X-ray inspection by discerning materials based on chemical composition. This enables it to detect and reject previously undetectable inorganic contaminants. Eagle will showcase a range of its X-ray inspection systems at PACK EXPO International.

One Pack Expo exhibitor hoping to leverage the recordkeeping requirements of FSMA is Key Technology, Inc. The company recently introduced a program called FoodSafetyPRO™ for its Manta®, Optyx®, Tegra®, and G6 ADR® lines of optical sorters and defect removal systems. FoodSafetyPRO provides food manufacturers with a comprehensive suite of products including a system audit, remote equipment monitoring and training on HACCP.

Attendees will also have the opportunity to stop by the Mocon booth. The company offers same-day bacterial analysis for meat, poultry, seafood, dairy, and produce. Its GreenLight® series instrumentation provides Aerobic Plate Count (APC) or Total Viable Count (TVC) of a food sample’s microbial load by using a sensing assay or vial. As bacteria in a test sample multiply and respire, they consumer oxygen. The change in oxygen is used to calculate the sample’s colony forming units per gram for solids or per milliliter for liquids. GreenLight is designed for high-throughput operations, and by streamlining testing times the company contends that it is able to shorten the time needed to get perishable foods to customers.

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