Michael Thomas

With a B.Sc. in Medicinal Chemistry and experience in the application and sales of field and laboratory instrumentation, Mike is our ‘science-meets-technology’ person, also known as our Application Scientist. Mike’s role will be to ensure customers fully leverage our software enablement platform, so they can get the most out of their water quality data. His passions are music, reading, grilling, and science, though not necessarily in that order. During Canada’s short summers he spends time trying out the local craft breweries, taking road trips to concerts and exploring the parks and hiking trails of the Maritimes.

Food Safety Regulations Gets Tighter, Food Testing Gets Easier

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Analyzing The Global Food Market

Bananas from Ecuador, cashews from Ghana, and rice from India. What do these products have in common? They’ve all traveled thousands of miles to the aisles of grocery stores across North America, and have been exposed to hundreds of microbes along their way. A trip to your local supermarket is a quick glimpse into the massive, interconnected global food market. The globalization of the food industry is continuing at a furious rate. As large companies are increasingly responsible for a larger piece of the pie, these food products will be concentrated into ever larger vessels, processing plants, and distribution lines.

As food products travel by land, sea, and air, they are exposed to countless microorganisms from Aeromonas hydrophila to Zoogloea oryzae. While not all of these microorganisms are responsible for human health issues, there are many potential avenues of transfer for pathogenic microorganisms based on poor or non-existent safety practices involved with farming, processing, and food handling. The main perpetrators of foodborne illnesses are the bacteria E. Coli, Salmonella and Listeria. There are a few different species and serotypes of the bacterium within each genus that are relevant to food safety. Traditional testing relies on culturing these microorganisms to identify their presence. DNA testing offers a quicker route to the same result and meets the strict guidelines of QA Managers across a range of food industries.

Tighter Food Safety Regulations

The CDC reports that 1 in 6 Americans will be affected each year by foodborne illnesses, with the vast majority of these illnesses being preventable with improved safety regulations. The recent outbreak of E. Coli O157 on romaine lettuce in Canada and the US has shed light on the need for strong food safety regulations, and that even with strong regulations, producers and retailers must remain vigilant. Worry not though, as the governments of Canada and the US have stepped up to the challenge.

The US introduced their Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) in 2011 which granted the FDA new powers and required that they issue new guidelines involving reports, plans, and strategies over the coming years.

Earlier this year, Canada released its own new guidelines called the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR). These new guidelines will be implemented over the next two and a half years and represent new licensing, preventive control and traceability requirements for food importers and exporters. These new regulations are important to protect Canadians and their businesses. In 2017, Canada was responsible for exporting $50.6 billion USD worth of food-related products to the global market, in the categories of animal and vegetable by-products, animal products, foodstuffs and vegetable products. In return, Canada imported $29.8 billion USD worth of products in the same categories.

An Easy Food Safety Testing Solution

LuminUltra acquired American-based DNA company InstantLabs last year, which has positioned us to offer food safety solutions to the US, Canadian and world food safety market. A key step in the growth of a food producer is bringing testing capabilities in-house, in lieu of outsourcing to a third-party testing lab, which is the best option for smaller or new companies. In-house testing allows for quicker results, stronger control over your product and for a lower price per test costs.

 

For any questions relating to food safety regulations or testing, LuminUltra is happy to be a part of the conversation and to help with your transition to in-house pathogenic testing. The full text of the new SFCR can be found here.

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