Auditors and public health: a request

I still can’t say no to students.

Beth Driscoll, MA, CPHI(C), CHA, PMP (I’m not sure what all those initials mean) and PhD Candidate, Policy Studies, at Ryerson University (that’s in Toronto, which is in Canada) writes:

My name is Beth Driscoll, and I am inviting you to participate in a brief, online survey.  This survey will take approximately 15 minutes to complete, and investigates the perceptions of Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) auditors’ role in public health.  This survey is being conducted for my doctoral research project at Ryerson University.

To participate in this project, you must:

•]be fully certified to conduct GFSI audits for at least one benchmarked scheme;

• have completed at least five GFSI audits of that scheme; and,

• be fluent in English.

The survey is not intended to investigate or assess the GFSI, a GFSI benchmarked Food Safety Scheme, Certification Body, Accreditation Body, government or other organization.  Should the responses to the survey questions contain information that would identify one of these organizations, the identifying information will be anonymized prior to use.

Conflict of interest declarations: I am a contract employee for NSF International.  This information is being collected solely for my researcher’s graduate degree, and is not being collected for any organization associated with the GFSI or NSF International, nor do I conduct GFSI audits. 

If you choose to participate, you will be asked to complete an online survey about your professional identity and your understanding of your role in public health through the audits you conduct to a Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) benchmarked Food Safety Scheme.  The survey is confidential is using Opinio, Ryerson University’s Online Survey Program, and all data is stored at Ryerson University.  This study has undergone review through the Ryerson University Research Ethics Board and if you have questions about your rights as a research participant, you may contact the Ryerson Research Ethics Board at rebchair@ryerson.ca.  If you have any questions about the survey please contact the researcher, Beth Driscoll, at edriscol@ryerson.ca  or Dr. Richard Meldrum at  meldrum@ryerson.ca before continuing.

Please feel free to forward this email to anyone you feel may be qualified to participate.

To participate, please go to the following website: https://survey.ryerson.ca:443/s?s=6004

How the hell could we know? Kellogg hopeless at food safety and accountability

In 2008, peanut butter thingies with the nut part sourced from Peanut Corporation of America killed nine people and sickened at least 700 with Salmonella.

traci_lind_and_matthew_broderick_in_the_road_to_wellville_2In March 2009, Kellogg’s CEO David Mackay did an outstanding impersonation of Kevin McDonald’s, “How the hell should I know” skit (below) in front of a U.S. Congressional committee.

“When you look at Kellogg, we have 3,000 ingredients and 1,000 suppliers, I think it’s common industry practice to use a third party” (to verify safety).

Not common enough for Nestle North America, which rejected Peanut Corporation of America’s Blakely plant as a supplier in 2002 after it found the plant had no plans to address hazards like salmonella.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that in January 2006, Nestle also rejected the company’s Plainview, Texas, plant after finding dozens of dead mice rotting in and around the plant, dead pigeons near a peanut receiving door and live birds roosting inside the plant.

Congressional types also heard that auditors AIB — also known as the American Institute of Baking based in Manhattan (sigh, Kansas) — were hired and paid by Peanut Corp. of America, notified the company in advance when they were coming, how to prepare for inspections and then gave its plants glowing reviews.

An inspector with AIB wrote to the manager of Peanut Corp.’s Blakely, Ga., in a December 2008 e-mail produced by the committee, “You lucky guy. I am your AIB auditor. So we need to get your plant set up for any audit.”

Mackay told the committee a version of, “how the hell could we know?” and that AIB is the most commonly used inspector by food companies in America.

48_the_road_to_wellvilleHe also wanted food safety placed under a new leader in the Health and Human Services department, called for new requirements that all food companies have written safety plans, annual federal inspections of facilities that make high-risk foods, and other reforms.

Mackay whined that Kellogg’s had to recall more than 7 million cases of crackers and cookies, at a cost of $65 million to $70 million, and that “Audit findings reported no concerns that the facility may have had any pathogen-related issues or any potential contamination.”

Kellogg’s is a multi-billion dollar company asking for a government handout to do what Kellogg’s should be doing – selling a safe product. Kellogg’s helped create the paper albatross that is third-party audits instead of having its own people at plants that supply product which Kellogg’s resells at a substantial profit.  Kellogg’s crapmeister told Washington how to strengthen food safety when he couldn’t keep shit out of his own company’s peanut cracker thingies.

aib-audit-eggsThis is a company founded on fairytales and colonic cleansing in Michigan, making its money selling sugar-sweetened treats to kids and their parents, and using a sliver of those profits to sanctimoniously fund so-called research and training, using Michigan State University as their willing vessel.

With this background, it’s not surprising that, as reported by Dan Flynn of Food Safety News, that, “In mid-2007, Michael collaborated with his brother, Stewart Parnell, who was the President and CEO of Peanut Corporation of America, a peanut processing and manufacturing company, to provide peanut paste to Kellogg.”

P.P sales “was a small operation with two tanker trucks and one customer: Kellogg Company.

From mid-2007 to 2008, Michael shipped peanut paste from PCA’s Blakely, Georgia plant (PCA Blakely) to a Kellogg production facility in Cary, North Carolina.”

P.P.’s tanker trucks, filled with peanut paste, during those months were making 1,200 round-trips to provide the product Kellogg’s needed to put a little dab of peanut paste on all those Keebler PB sandwich crackers.

When anyone from Kelloggs talks about food safety, have a chuckle and move on; or tell them what dickshits they are and how they know nothing about food safety.

Audits and inspections are never enough: A critique to enhance food safety

30.aug.12

Food Control

D.A. Powell, S. Erdozain, C. Dodd, R. Costa, K. Morley, B.J. Chapman

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0956713512004409?v=s5

Abstract

Internal and external food safety audits are conducted to assess the safety and quality of food including on-farm production, manufacturing practices, sanitation, and hygiene. Some auditors are direct stakeholders that are employed by food establishments to conduct internal audits, while other auditors may represent the interests of a second-party purchaser or a third-party auditing agency. Some buyers conduct their own audits or additional testing, while some buyers trust the results of third-party audits or inspections. Third-party auditors, however, use various food safety audit standards and most do not have a vested interest in the products being sold. Audits are conducted under a proprietary standard, while food safety inspections are generally conducted within a legal framework. There have been many foodborne illness outbreaks linked to food processors that have passed third-party audits and inspections, raising questions about the utility of both. Supporters argue third-party audits are a way to ensure food safety in an era of dwindling economic resources. Critics contend that while external audits and inspections can be a valuable tool to help ensure safe food, such activities represent only a snapshot in time. This paper identifies limitations of food safety inspections and audits and provides recommendations for strengthening the system, based on developing a strong food safety culture, including risk-based verification steps, throughout the food safety system.

 

 

Will fewer people barf? FSMA and audits, especially third party, still suck

Allen L Mozek, MPH, a Fellow of the International Food Protection Training Institute (IFPTI) and public health advocate for prevention of areca nut diseases, writes in this (as yet unpublished) letter to the editor of Food Safety magazine that the October/November 2016 issue sings “Kumbaya” about the Food Safety Moderization Act (FSMA)  – let’s step back and be politically incorrect:

barf-o-meter-dec-12HACCP was never supposed to be a regulation but “an approach to inspection” – per Dr. Frank L. Bryan – HACCP pioneer.

Ready-to-eat produce and sprouts, due to outbreaks and lack of CCP, would not be permitted if not for Salinas CA producers and sprout association lobbying.

Preventive controls is “another regulation” that will mitigate hazards but not provide the conventional 5 log reduction of pathogens with these products.

Second, food fraud is intentional adulteration for economic gain and not amenable to either HACCP or preventive controls but is rather an ethical problem. See the essay:

Market Economies With Churches and Market Economies Without Churches, by Zhao Xiao

Third, I would like to see thorough answers to three questions (courtesy of economist Thomas Sowell):

1.     What is the empirical evidence for this legislation?

2.     Compared to what will this legislation be an improvement?

3.     What is the cost?

Fourth, please answer the charge of “conflict of interest” and “sham”, regarding third party auditors, exclaimed by renowned foodborne illness attorney Bill Marler and barfblog.com editor Doug Powell.

83 sickened: Long list of food safety failures identified at Adelaide InterContinental, source of Salmonella outbreak

Katrina Stokes of The Advertiser reports that documents released under the freedom of information act highlighted numerous potential problems with the Intercontinental’s cooking practices, which left 83 people ill with salmonella poisoning after eating at the Riverside restaurant on Sunday, July 31. These include the known safety risk of using the same whisk in both cooked and raw eggs.

scrambled-eggs_An Adelaide city council report, obtained by The Advertiser from Duncan Basheer Hannon, confirms the common link between the affected individuals was the consumption of scrambled eggs. Test results identified Salmonella Typhimurium.

An investigation led by the council in early august concluded a long list of “issues” with cooking processes at the hotel.

They included:

A whisk used throughout the (scrambled egg) cooking process from a raw egg mix to a cooked mix.

Scrambled eggs were continually topped up and not fully replaced between the hours of 6.30am and 9.15am.

Serving spoons were replaced only when deemed necessary, posing a potential risk for cross-contamination.

The stick blender used to mix raw eggs was inadequately sanitised.

The nightshift chef responsible for preparing the raw-egg mix did not adequately understand correct cleaning and sanitising processes.

Scrambled egg reheat temperatures were not recorded on July 31 and there was no thermometer to record temperatures because it was “lost three months ago.”

A plastic container storing raw egg slurry had a damaged lid and rough internal surfaces, which were identified as difficult to clean and sanitise.

Intercontinental Adelaide general manager Colin McCandless said the report was a “hypothesis.”

Mr McCandless said the hotel had produced a score of “100 per cent” in a recent external audit of food safety procedures.

Audits often mean little.

That’s the same McCandless who in early Augest said it was ‘absolutely safe’ to eat at the hotel.

The hotel’s $37 full breakfast buffet at the Riverside restaurant includes scrambled eggs.

 

Collaboration collaborationists: Trust us is terrible soundbite for food safety

Last night, I chatted in my terrible French with our host and his far better English, with Amy there to mediate the difficult parts, about his parents’ emotional shit-fest during Nazi occupation in World War II.

gfsi.collaboration.bs.jun.16The short version: his father had been chosen to be killed by Germans in retaliation for the killing of a German soldier, and while awaiting death, American troops rolled into town, post-Normandy, and his father was spared.

The son showed me a photograph of the German boss being transported out of town on the front of an American Jeep, hands on his head.

That’s one of the reasons this lovely French family loves Amy: she’s American.

Collaboration, which has been touted for decades as essential in the academic enterprise and yesterday ad nausea in the food safety world, also has a different meaning: Collaborationists.

Selling out.

I’ve covered this before, but food safety collaboration is over-rated, especially if it’s driven by a top-down organization.

Just because a lot of salaries from the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) signed a memorandum of understanding on jointly developing food safety capacity building projects, means nothing (upper right, propaganda image).

Will fewer people barf?

Yet the collaborationists falling over themselves to follow is at once both nauseating and vomit-inducing.

Philippe Scholtes, Managing Director at UNIDO, said, “The World Health Organization estimates that up to 600 million people fall ill every year after eating contaminated food. Our collaboration with GFSI will further strengthen and promote multiple benefits of safe food for social inclusiveness, sustainability and industrial development.” 

Will fewer people barf?

Mike Robach, Chair of the GFSI Board of Directors, added, “We are very enthusiastic about the potential to have a bigger impact in these key regions, thanks to this collaboration with UNIDO. Multi-sector collaboration is the way forward in achieving food safety across borders and barriers. Our joint efforts within this partnership will take us further and faster towards our vision of safe food for consumers, everywhere.”

collaboration.german.trustWill fewer people barf (lower left, propaganda image)?

Individuals create and innovate, and bring others to the table.

Individuals who are steady and focused need someone to take them out of their comfort zone, as much as the erratic need steadying support.

That is the challenge of any collaboration, bringing those elements together, and being better than the individual.

Otherwise, it’s just a collaborationist following a paycheck.

Olympic-sized food safety issues for Rio

Lina Tran of Eater writes that Rio de Janeiro 2016 kicks off in less than three months, and everyone knows feeding Olympic athletes is one of the most exciting aspects of the Games.

chapman.auditRio has constructed a kitchen the size of a football field (American football, that is) and a dining room two times that, the Associated Press reports. The kitchen will prepare 60,000 meals each day for over 18,000 athletes, coaches, and staff.

The dining hall will house five all-you-can-eat buffets accommodating different tastes and diets: Brazilian, Asian, International, Pasta and Pizza, Halal and Kosher. Diners have a spectrum of international breakfast options, including congee, miso soup, and natto.

Food safety is a crucial strategy for an operation of this size, and steroids in animal meat, meant to improve lean growth, can cause false positives in drug testing of athletes. “To assure that our ingredients are free of steroids and other kinds of chemicals, we are making sure our suppliers have all the certificates that are demanded by our national food and drug agency,” says Marcello Corderio, Rio’s director of food and beverages.

Certificates? Paperwork? Really? Do better. You can’t test your way to safe food, but any program requires some sort of verification, whether it’s testing or a pair of eyes on the production facility. Not just paperwork.

SQF certification is so simple (acronym overload)

The U.S. Food Marketing Institute says the new infographic 8 Steps to SQF Certification breaks down the ins-and-outs of how to become SQFI certified.

It’s so simple, it’s confusing.

Consumers, this is how you know your food is safe, even though there are lots of outbreaks associated with SQF foods.

handwashing.sep.12(Step 5 reminds me of this)

 

8-steps-to-certification

 

Way forward for safer eggs: Forget faith-based food safety, inspections and audits are never enough

The editorial board of The Des Moines Register writes that if there’s one lesson to be learned from the 2010 salmonella outbreak that originated in Iowa and sickened thousands of consumers nationwide, it’s the high cost of failing to properly regulate egg audit.checklistproduction.

Maybe.

But what constitutes proper regulation?

What constitutes proper audits and inspections?

How can consumers choose?

Jack and Peter DeCoster, who were criminally charged for the way they ran the Quality Egg operation in Iowa, were bad actors, as the Iowa egg industry now admits. But what sort of regulatory system do we have that allows scofflaws to not only flourish but also become some of the industry’s biggest players?

That’s a question our governor and state legislators have steadfastly, and very deliberately, refused to address. Still, it has to be asked, particularly in light of the recent revelations that the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship indefinitely suspended its inspection of egg production facilities last year to eliminate any risk of inspectors spreading the bird flu virus.

After the 2010 salmonella outbreak and shortly before leaving office, Iowa Gov. Chet Culver proposed a series of reforms aimed at addressing five vulnerabilities in Iowa’s egg production regulations. None have been acted upon by the Branstad administration.

Among the proposed reforms:

More stringent state oversight of the smaller egg farms — those with fewer than 3,000 laying hens — that are exempt from federal regulations.

AIB.audit.eggsState-mandated reporting, by both testing laboratories and egg producers, of positive tests for salmonella enteritidis.

Accreditation and certification standards for laboratories that perform testing for salmonella.

Creation of a state-mandated salmonella detection and prevention program, with minimum training and competency standards for the staff.

Creation of a new funding stream to support the implementation of a comprehensive, statewide egg-safety program.

But that’s not enough.

Consumers and their pocketbooks will drive food safety innovation and accountability at retail.

Market food safety at retail so consumers can choose.

Audits and inspections are never enough: A critique to enhance food safety

30.aug.12

Food Control

D.A. Powell, S. Erdozain, C. Dodd, R. Costa, K. Morley, B.J. Chapman

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0956713512004409?v=s5

Abstract

Internal and external food safety audits are conducted to assess the safety and quality of food including on-farm production, manufacturing practices, sanitation, and hygiene. Some auditors are direct stakeholders that are employed by food establishments to conduct internal audits, while other auditors may represent the interests of a second-party purchaser or a third-party auditing agency. Some buyers conduct their own audits or additional testing, while some buyers trust the results of third-party audits or inspections. Third-party auditors, however, use various food safety audit standards and most do not have a vested interest in the products being sold. Audits are conducted under a proprietary standard, while food safety inspections are generally conducted within a legal framework. There have been many foodborne illness outbreaks linked to food processors that have passed third-party audits and inspections, raising questions about the utility of both. Supporters argue third-party audits are a way to ensure food safety in an era of dwindling economic resources. Critics contend that while external audits and inspections can be a valuable tool to help ensure safe food, such activities represent only a snapshot in time. This paper identifies limitations of food safety inspections and audits and provides recommendations for strengthening the system, based on developing a strong food safety culture, including risk-based verification steps, throughout the food safety system.

Hairnets and pole barns: Watermelon group voices audit concerns

Chris Koger of The Packer writes that watermelon growers insist there’s no food safety risk involved without hairnets, and that a majority of watermelon shippers pack in pole barns.

watermelon-truckAnd they’re probably right.

So how to reconcile the demands of the U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act and auditor requirements?

Courtney Cox, who as director of quality assurance for Primus AuditingOps, follows up on grower complaints stemming from third-party audits by her company, told the National Watermelon Association’s Convention the single most common non-compliant issue in the watermelon industry  — with 76% of facilities — is the mandate for four walls.

Several in attendance also pointed out that no retailer demands their own employees wear hairnets when handling watermelons.

NWA executive director Bob Morrissey told growers he plans to follow up with Azzule Systems — owns the PrimusGFS auditing scheme – adding, “I assure you from the association level we are going to aggressively approach (Azzule) to discuss these things. We need to get to some point where these audits are making common sense and stop with these expectations that are unrealistic, that are not only causing (growers-shippers) harm, but are causing them money.”

‘Policy matriculates from attitude’ as Michigan produce biz trickles down food safety

I can tell you that we’re constantly undergoing third-party audits, constantly investing capital into food safety,” said Dominic Riggio, president of Riggio Distribution, a Detroit-based distributor formerly known as Aunt Mid Produce Co.

trickle-downThere’s never any down time when it comes to checking on food safety issues, Riggio said.

“As an owner, we take that issue very seriously and invest a lot of time, resources and money into it,” he said.

Where food safety is concerned, policy matriculates from attitude, Riggio said.

“It’s something that, when ownership gets behind it with resources, it trickles down to the employees,” he said. “If it’s important for owners, it’s important for everybody.”

Nobody even has to discuss what needs to be done, because procedures are well ingrained in the mentality of the business, Riggio said.

“It’s expected and the new normal part of being in our industry anymore,” he said.

Heeren LLC, a Grand Rapids, Mich.-area wholesaler, moved into a new building outside of town two years ago. Food safety considerations were central in the planning of the new plant, said Jim Heeren, president.

There’s nothing revolutionary about the concept of safety in an industry that always has prioritized the integrity of its product, but good records have become more essential, Heeren said.

“It’s still a big deal when you’re selling to the big guys (chains),” he said. 

Audits and inspections are never enough: A critique to enhance food safety

30.aug.12

Food Control

D.A. Powell, S. Erdozain, C. Dodd, R. Costa, K. Morley, B.J. Chapman

Internal and external food safety audits are conducted to assess the safety and quality of food including on-farm production, manufacturing practices, sanitation, and hygiene. Some auditors are direct stakeholders that are employed by food establishments to conduct internal audits, while other auditors may represent the interests of a second-party purchaser or a third-party auditing agency. Some buyers conduct their own audits or additional testing, while some buyers trust the results of third-party audits or inspections. Third-party auditors, however, use various food safety audit standards and most do not have a vested interest in the products being sold. Audits are conducted under a proprietary standard, while food safety inspections are generally conducted within a legal framework. There have been many foodborne illness outbreaks linked to food processors that have passed third-party audits and inspections, raising questions about the utility of both. Supporters argue third-party audits are a way to ensure food safety in an era of dwindling economic resources. Critics contend that while external audits and inspections can be a valuable tool to help ensure safe food, such activities represent only a snapshot in time. This paper identifies limitations of food safety inspections and audits and provides recommendations for strengthening the system, based on developing a strong food safety culture, including risk-based verification steps, throughout the food safety system.