Reminder: clean your fridge this weekend

Imagine the inside of your refrigerator. So many shelves, drawers, trays and cubbies, all with their own corners and crevices. Now imagine all of the food that could get stuck in the nooks and crannies: ketchup splatters, sandwich crumbs, raw meat juices… we could go on.

Sounds nasty, huh? But for many of us, the grossness lurking in our fridges is something we try not to think about. Most people in the U.S. clean their fridges just once or twice a year, according to the Wall Street Journal.

How often should we be cleaning? Well, more than once yearly. You should wipe down surfaces with a disinfectant on roughly a weekly basis, to remove any spills or food debris. Less frequently but still regularly, you should empty the fridge and do a deep clean, making sure to get in and around drawers, under glass panes and in any crevices that you have to remove shelves to reach.

My fridge doesn’t smell that bad yet, though!

Foodborne illness-causing bacteria can be dangerous before the point where your fridge gets smelly. Listeria, Salmonella, E. coli and Staphylococcus are some of the biggest culprits for causing foodborne illness, and they can in fact be harbored in an unclean fridge, growing or even spreading from food item to food item. The cold temperatures greatly reduce bacterial growth — except in the case of Listeria, which can grow at 32-45°F. [ More … ]

Listeria Right Now™: top questions about its technology

Neogen has received a lot of questions since introducing the Listeria Right Now™ system this past July at the International Association for Food Protection’s annual meeting. The system is an environmental Listeria test that features molecular-level accuracy with no need for enrichment. The total time to result? Under one hour.

We’ve seen many different ways customers have been using the product, and we’ve heard a lot of questions about what the system does, how it does it, and how it can be used. We’ve created space on our website for sharing questions and responses from Neogen experts. Below are some of the most popular questions and responses.

How should I use ANSR Listeria Right Now?

The Listeria Right Now assay adds value anywhere a faster response is beneficial. Here are some of the innovative ways our customers tell us they use it:

  • As a process control.
  • To perform corrective actions much more quickly to prevent an issue from becoming a serious problem.
  • To perform investigations following a positive test result.
  • To enhance their vectoring process, including testing transitory items such as containers, pallets and shoes.
  • To bring Listeria testing into their facility without the concern of growing pathogens.
  • To commission and implement new equipment more quickly. This process can take days with traditional Listeria testing, but can be done with Listeria Right Now in less than one shift.
  • To inspect and validate areas following construction events.
  • To test tools and other maintenance items to minimize cross-contamination.

How well does ANSR Listeria Right Now work with sanitizers and cleaners?

We’ve tested the ANSR Listeria Right Now system with all of the popular sanitizers and cleaners and found no degradation on performance in the presence of residual sanitizers and cleaners.

Does ANSR Listeria Right Now detect dead cells?

Yes, the ANSR Listeria Right Now system does not discriminate between live and dead cells. However, since the target for the Listeria Right Now assay is ribosomal RNA (rRNA), which degrades faster than DNA after cell death, there is less of a probability of replicating rRNA from dead cells than with traditional PCR assays.

Is ANSR Listeria Right Now validated using environmental sponges?

The ANSR Listeria Right Now system is only validated using the included sampling swabs. The use of sponges is under review, but has not been validated yet. If a sponge protocol is established, there will likely be changes to the current test procedure.

Got more questions? Get in touch via our website, or see if your question is covered in our expanded Frequently Asked Questions on the same page.

Science: Using light to shrink livestock stink

Sometimes, science requires great sacrifices. For the sake of progress, researchers throughout history have put their health and safety at risk in the course of making new discoveries.

Other research projects may not be so dangerous — some are more on the gross side.

Researchers at Iowa State University had to put their noses to the test in a project intended to neutralize the odor given off by livestock operations using, of all things, light.

For over a decade, university professor Jacek Koziel and his team have been experimenting with using ultraviolet (UV) light to neutralize the volatile components that make, shall we say, unpleasant odors in and around poultry and swine operations. These odors can be carried by wind into surrounding communities.

“We have shown that generic UV light works very well, up to a 100% reduction of those key gases,” Koziel said.

The latest research conducted by the team involves shining UV light from a black light onto surfaces thinly coated with a [ More … ]

ATP, protein and allergen testing in production facilities: Which should you use?

Any food producer could tell you that keeping facilities clean is paramount. A good sanitation standard operating procedure is essential to ensure that business can continue as usual. There are many tests and methods to verify cleanliness. Here, we’ll take a look at some of the options.

ATP testing

Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is a molecule responsible for transferring energy within a cell. If ATP is detected on a surface, something living or (previously living) is present as well.

“ATP sanitation verification systems measure the ATP collected from food contact surfaces or liquids as an indication of the cleanliness of the surface, or purity of the liquid,” said Neogen’s Erick Pardo. “They work by measuring the light created when ATP contacts a reagent in the system’s sampling devices. The higher the levels of food residue and microorganisms in a surface or water sample, the more ATP, and the more light produced.”

(Fun fact: The reaction that produces the light is based on similar chemistry to what causes fireflies to glow at night!) [ More … ]

Monday links

What’s the latest in the fields of agriculture, food safety, animal science and toxicology? Check it out here.

Animal Science:

Continued progress towards beef, dairy health — National Milk Producers Federation
The U.S. beef and dairy industries continue to improve the quality of their management practices, according to the 2016 National Beef Quality Audit.

Kune Kune piglets possess social learning skills, have good memory — University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna
A new study has shown for the first time that pigs are able to learn from each other, and that the intelligent animals also possess remarkable long-term memory after they internalize a learned technique. [ More … ]

Monday Mycotoxin and Crop Report: October 16, 2017

This week, after we look at the status of the ongoing corn harvest, Dr. Dennis Nuzback of Phibro Animal Health returns as a special guest to talk about dairy feed. Click here to watch.

Neogen Corporation takes great care to ensure the integrity of the data we collect from many sources across the country. As these data can vary widely, they should NOT be considered typical of all grain harvested. The mycotoxin levels we report are intended to assist our industry partners in developing their risk assessment programs. Detecting problems before commingling or processing can help avoid quality issues and financial losses.

To subscribe to get these reports straight to your email inbox, click here.

European histamine outbreaks attributed to temperature abuse

Histamine poisoning from Spanish-supplied tuna has been a big deal for European markets this year, with hundreds sickened since May.

Now experts are saying that the problem likely stemmed from temperature abuse. Food Quality News reports that the highest level of histamine contamination found so far in the investigation was 5,020 parts per million (ppm). How much is too much? For example, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has set a “defect action level” for histamine of just 50 ppm in tuna.

Hundreds of people, including more than 100 in Spain alone, have reported cases of histamine poisoning. Products were recalled, and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) launched an extensive investigation to trace back the origin of the histamine outbreaks.

EFSA was unable to find a specific point in the food supply chain that could have caused every outbreak reported, but grouped incidents into four events. [ More … ]

AOAC meeting recap: metagenomics, Meiothermus and an award-winning poster

For over a century — a whopping 131 years, to be exact — the AOAC has held an annual meeting and exposition where scientists from around the world gather to hold roundtables, workshops and present their latest work to others in the community.

Neogen was proud to present several posters this year, including one from Edan Hosking, whose work was honored with an award, the “First-Time Poster Presenter,” at the expo, which took place in Atlanta, Georgia.

Here’s what Hosking had to say about the event, his research, and the award.

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Study: groundnuts can be made immune to aflatoxin-producing molds

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could train our crops to be resistant to molds that produce mycotoxins, pests and other concerns? Well, scientists are working on that. And they’ve had some success.

Researchers have recently developed groundnuts that can halt the growth of molds that create aflatoxin by producing proteins called defensins that stop the propagation of mold. The team took defensin genes from other plants and transferred them to the nuts. Not only that, but the groundnut seeds can also emit “gene-silencing RNA molecules” that stop the mold from producing aflatoxin in the first place.

Seeds developed by the researchers were directly exposed to molds that produce aflatoxin, including Aspergillus flavus and A. parasiticus, for three days. The seeds were then tested to contain less than one part per billion (ppb) of aflatoxin, compared to over 3,000 ppb measured in seeds without the double-defense treatment.

“We have analyzed the way the fungus propagates through pods in the groundnut,” said Pooja Bhatnagar-Mathur, lead author of the study. “By looking at what exists in nature, we then devised biotechnology tools to develop groundnuts that are immune to pre-harvest Aspergillus infection, and are also able to block aflatoxin production in the field as well as under post-harvest storage.” [ More … ]

Neogen at Fresh Summit

What: Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit expo in New Orleans, LA
When: October 20-21
Where: Booth #4419 in the First-Time Exhibitor Pavilion

The Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit expo is right around the corner. With the event being one of the largest fresh fruit and vegetable conferences in the United States, Neogen will be there to talk about food safety with you.

Our dedicated fruit and vegetable team will be there to answer your questions on topics such as: the FDA draft guidance on environmental monitoring for Listeria, how you can detect sanitation issues quicker than ever with new data analytics automation, and more. We know the struggles you face with tight shipping deadlines, the perishable nature of your fresh products and the evolving regulatory standards coming into the industry.

For years the vegetable and fruit industries have needed a faster way to monitor their environments. The ANSR® Listeria Right Now™ test provides results in under an hour without enrichment. If you are curious about the test, the fruit and vegetable team will be showing the system at booth #4419.

PMA’s (Produce Marketing Association) Fresh Summit Expo is happening October 20-21, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Neogen will be at booth #4419 in the First-Time Exhibitor Pavilion. See you there!