Coming soon: Food safety rules for bugs

Like it or not, over the past few years, the Western world has been creeping steadily closer toward the idea of insects as mainstream food. (Many Asian and South American countries are worlds ahead in that respect, where insects are often part of meals or sold as tasty street stall snacks.) With the latest move from the European Commission (EC), another step has been taken.

The agency plans to introduce new food safety rules for insects intended for human consumption by adding on to a previously existing regulation that covers all animal-based food products (Regulation (EC) No. 853/2004).

Experts have been saying for years now that as our global population grows, insects could soon prove to be a valuable alternative source of protein, as they can be farmed efficiently. They take up little space and are easy to feed. Already, consumers can get ahold of foods that use insects as an ingredient, like cricket-based flour or insect burgers. Many have proposed using insects in animal feed and pet food, as well. [ More … ]

This Valentine’s Day, we love food safety — you can too

Valentine’s Day seems to be a bigger deal every year, as the lovestruck event planners of the world devise more and more ways to celebrate affection — both romantic and platonic. We’ve got Galentine’s Day lunches, Valenguys Day dinners, Palentine’s Day parties and more. At the center of them all: delicious food.

With food comes the risk of foodborne illness. Here are some things to keep in mind, for the sake of food safety.

Be bold about your allergies. Whether you’re dining in or out with a new date or loved ones you’ve known for years, don’t be afraid to speak up about your food allergies. Let dates know not to get you a gift containing your allergen, and make sure the restaurant you dine at has you-friendly entrees. For a milk allergy, be aware that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has found that many dark chocolates not labeled as containing milk actually did. Ask your romantic partner to avoid certain foods if you think they’ll go in for the kiss — allergens can remain in the mouth for up to four hours. [ More … ]

First International Food Safety Conference highlights need for global partnership

The first International Food Safety Conference kicked off this week in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with participating world leaders hoping to promote greater global cooperation surrounding sustainability and unsafe food.

The conference was organized by the African Union, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Trade Organization and the World Health Organization (WHO). Representatives from around 130 countries are attending the two-day event.

According to WHO, the yearly global figures for foodborne illness are 600 million people sick, with 420,000 losing their lives. These numbers include people affected by food contaminated with bacteria, viruses, parasites, toxins or chemicals. These issues, WHO points out, don’t just impact the food industry, but also can overwhelm healthcare systems, trade, tourism and the overall economy.

“Food should be a source of nourishment and enjoyment, not a cause of disease or death,” said WHO’s Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Unsafe food is responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths every year, but has not received the political attention it deserves. Ensuring people have access to safe food takes sustained investment in stronger regulations, laboratories, surveillance and monitoring.” [ More … ]

As U.S. recalls hit 5-year low, FDA strengthens guidance on recall notices

A guidance document finalized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week strengthens the way companies issue public notices about their voluntary recalls, as well as elaborates on situations in which the FDA can issue its own warning about a product.

The document is aimed to help the FDA keep potentially unsafe food out of the hands of consumers by bettering communication about recalls and other food safety concerns, an area that other agencies and the public have asked the FDA to improve upon in recent years.

“Most companies collaborate with the FDA to rapidly initiate voluntary recalls and work with their supply chain partners to remove the product from shelves to prevent further distribution,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb in a statement. “And in general, a recall occurs quickly when the problem is discovered. However, there are situations where the FDA may need to provide safety advice to the marketplace to protect consumers.” [ More … ]

New algorithm aims to predict outbreaks of PEDv and other animal diseases

Computers have long since been an integral part of nearly every aspect of modern life, from the home to the workplace, yet still we continue finding new ways they can help us.

A new algorithm developed by researchers in the U.S. and Brazil could give farmers advance warning of disease outbreaks in their animals. Currently, the model focuses on porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) in pigs, but the researchers plan to improve the model to predict a wider range of diseases affecting more animals, including poultry.

“This proof-of-concept model identified the PEDv spread bottleneck in North Carolina and allowed us to rank infection risk factors in order of importance,” said Gustavo Machado, author of a paper on the algorithm.

The machine-learning model was first created using weekly incidence data from swine farms, including pig movement, hog density, nearby vegetation, wind speed, temperature and precipitation from 10-kilometer radiuses around each farm. The model also took in information about documented outbreaks that had already occurred. [ More … ]

Equine flu crisis shuts down British horse races

Although winter isn’t considered “flu season” for horses like it is for humans, an outbreak of equine flu in the United Kingdom has led the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) to cancel all horse races this week. Horse racing will not resume until at least February 13.

“This precautionary approach is intended to ensure we put the health of the horse population and control of the virus first, and avoid any unnecessary risk that might come from returning to racing too quickly,” BHA said in a statement.

BBC Sport reports that six horses from the county of Cheshire tested positive for equine flu, even though they had previously been vaccinated. The infected horses had raced the day before, and potentially exposed other animals. As a result, races in over 20 locations were called off. A reported 174 racing stables are on lockdown.

Further testing of horses is necessary to determine the risk the outbreak poses. In the meantime, BHA is working with trainers to limit the flu’s spread by discussing biosecurity measures that should be taken. [ More … ]

Neogen launches Attic Attack Rodent Bait Station

LEXINGTON, Ky., Feb. 7, 2019 — Baiting for rats and mice in attics just got easier.

Neogen’s new, innovative, patented Attic Attack Bait Station simply and effectively places rodent bait right where roof rats and mice are active — while eliminating the need to climb up into difficult-to-access attic spaces.

Attic Attack’s unique design allows for the easy installation of its mounting base in all ceiling types. The base stays in place while the station can be removed and baited without the need for a key. Once bait is consumed, an indicator flag will drop, alerting you it’s time for more bait.

“An effective rodent control program relies upon the placement of bait where the rodents live and travel,” said Neogen’s Senior Biosecurity Product Manager Stacy Dixon. “The Attic Attack Bait Station greatly simplifies the placement of bait where roof rats and mice live and travel in typical poultry and swine operations, as well as many other facilities.” [ More … ]

When winter strikes: Food safety during a power outage

Power outages may just be the worst thing that can happen to a home during a fierce winter storm. Heating may be knocked out, leaving residents shivering under blankets. Without working lights, the darkest season becomes depressingly darker. And no electricity means no working refrigerator — presenting food safety risks that all northerners should prepare for.

When electricity is disabled in your home, it’s best to keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the temperatures inside. The coldness inside will prevent foodborne pathogens like Salmonella and E. coli from multiplying rapidly. Once the interior reaches 40°F, those pathogens can multiply rapidly. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) explains that a refrigerator can keep food cold for about four hours, and a freezer for up to 48 hours (just 24 if the freezer is only half-full). If that time passes before power is restored, it’s advisable to throw out the food stored inside. Ideally, perishable food that has been above 40°F for two or more hours should be tossed.

USDA also reminds us to isolate frozen meat in our freezers so that thawing juices don’t cross-contaminate the rest of the freezer’s contents. Other frozen items should be packed tightly to conserve coldness. [ More … ]

Cold weather considerations for cattle

Cold snaps and blizzards rocked many parts of the Northern Hemisphere last week, leaving many miserable and uncomfortable. While research shows that not all cows are as pessimistic about their environments as we humans can be, it’s obviously still important to protect them from the harsh elements. Here are some things to keep in mind.

General

A key way to protect cattle is the same step you’d take for yourself on a chilly day: making your environment warm and comfortable. To do this, you need to provide ample dry bedding, especially when the weather is wet. For calves especially, straw is the ideal bedding choice to insulate the animals from the cold ground.

It’s also important to ensure access to clean water, as dehydration is an underestimated risk in the winter. Double-check that water access is free of ice. Also be careful of a heightened mastitis risk — when windchills dip to -25°F, as they did in much of the U.S. last week, teats can freeze in less than one minute, leading to injuries that could become infected. [ More … ]

Neogen at the International Production and Processing Expo 2019

Neogen’s Food Safety team would love to see you at the International Production and Processing Expo (IPPE) Feb. 12–14 in Atlanta, Georgia! Stop by booth #C11511 to learn how the food and beverage industries are leveraging our solutions.

Featured Products

The Raptor® Integrated Analysis Platform — a lateral flow test strip reader with built-in incubation capable of analyzing up to three samples independently and simultaneously.

ANSR® Listeria Right Now™ — conduct environmental monitoring for Listeria in less than an hour and without enrichment.

16S Metagenomics — attain a high level of visibility of your microbiome to eliminate spoilage problems, improve the effectiveness of interventions, and understand your shelf life potential.

Our representatives are ready to answer any questions and explore your food safety needs.