Validation Vs. Verification; What the Heck is the Difference!?

This is one of the biggest confusions in our industry.  People ask all the time how to figure out the difference between validation and verification in their food plant.  I have broken it down for you so that we can, hopefully, all get on the same page about this topic.

Validation-“Is what we are going to do, going to work?” So in other words, we know from several sources that cooking chicken to the temperature of 165 degrees internally, will kill harmful bacteria that could potentially make people very ill.  We have credible documentation that can prove this.  So at that point, you can say your validation step is  you are going to cook your ready to eat chicken to 165 degrees prior to packaging for public sale.

Verification is seeing if we are actually doing the things that we say we are going to do. So this would mean that we have already validated that 165 is a perfect temperature to kill bacteria and we have stated that that is what we are going to do with our chicken; cook it to 165 degrees. Now we have to test the temperature of the food when it reaches this temperature regularly and document this.  This documentation is the proof of verification.

To confuse the topic even further, the thermometer that you use in the verification process, has to be calibrated regularly for accuracy and you will need to document this as well, proving that you are doing this.

So to sum it all up, validation is saying you are going to do something that is proven to work and verification is testing to show what you said you were going to do, you are now doing.  And of course, don’t forget to calibrate. Check your thermometer, or whatever device you are using to do your verification and then write this all down in one place!

Call us if you are still thoroughly confused.

-Shannon Nute, MBA

ASI Food Safety

800-477-0778

 

1 Side of Salmonella With Your Salad

We have all been there, first the room gets hot, we start to sweat and then the nausea, but I guess it’s better then the other end. . .  Must be food poisoning.

I was reading in the New York Times as they were discussing this topic just because it is a hot one, quite literally, right now.  The interesting thing that I found was when they were discussing the topic with a gastroenterologist. “People tend to blame the last thing they ate, but it’s probably the thing before the last thing they ate,” said Dr. Deborah Fisher, associate professor at Duke University School of Medicine.

Our digestive systems take about 18 hours to digest something so when the symptoms are triggered by food, it was probably that potato salad that you ate at the lunch 8 hours ago that is just entering the nature of food.

Something else that we preach all of the time is being conscience of hygiene. Sure you can wash your hands, but what about that cell phone that you just put down on the counter at the checkout line and then took that call 2 minutes later.  Or how about when you walked down the stairs to drop your kids off at daycare and held the rail on the way down.  Mmmmm sounds like a good mix of bacteria soup.

The one thing that companies fear is killing someone, but chances are, people are just going to have a rough 3 or 4 days and then be back to normal.  It’s the young, pregnant, sick and elderly people that we need to worry about.

The most interesting that I read in the article was that it may not be food poisoning at all. Here’s the scenario, which I am sure that I am guilty of.  Fodmaps. These are essentially carbohydrates that, eaten in excess, are not well absorbed in the small intestine and then make their way into your colon to cause all kinds of trouble. They include myriad things we’re encouraged to eat including broccoli, brussels sprouts, radicchio, asparagus, avocados, mushrooms, peaches, whole grains and legumes. Did I mention over eating?

Lastly, we have our nerves and stress.  This also has nothing to do with germs at all, but food poisening is most likely to blame. “The human brain and nervous system is very intimately mixed with another nervous system that is present in the walls of the intestine,” said Dr. Santhi Swaroop Vege, a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic. “These nerve fibers, nerves and plexuses are located continuously in the wall of intestine from the esophagus to rectum.”

This is your biology course for the day.

-Shannon

ASI Food Safety

www.asifood.com

800-477-0778

Quick the Ice Cube is on Fire!

Some of our employees just got back from a show and while they were there they ran into several people who sell sprinkling systems and fire extinguishers. The ironic thing about this, is that the show was for cold storage facilities.  As you might expect, they were thinking, so my frozen meat is going to catch fire? These people are wasting their time and funds.  However, after speaking with them, they learned that just between 2005 and 2009 there were 1,310 fires ignited within cold storage warehouses and distribution centers in the U.S. alone. Why?!

Special Hazards in Cold Storage Warehouses

There are many unique hazards in a refrigerated warehouse that have combustible attributes throughout the building.

We can start with just the items that are stored.  This frozen food is stored in cardboard.  When cardboard becomes refrigerated, it drys it and then becomes combustible. This goes along with many other materials such as rubber tires, rolled paper, carpet, bailed fiber, lift truck batteries, and lighting within the warehouse. The lighting that companies use within these warehouses account for 12% of those fires that I mentioned before. If the bulbs explode and send hot fragments down, well there is the end of your building.

The other shocking detail is that foods such as food coloring and other frozen products such as this are flammable and are classified as a class II or class III commodity.

Cold storage warehouses also have unique insulation to ensure the cold air remains within the pre-established area. In order to maintain the temperature of a refrigerated warehouse, polyurethane and polystyrene foam are often used as insulators. Ammonia-based refrigeration equipment is common within a refrigerated warehouse. In concentrations of 15-28%, ammonia is extremely flammable.

It is necessary to have sprinkler systems within the cold storage unit to contain or extinguish any fires that may occur before it can spread by means of the insulation or refrigerant.

You learn something new everyday.

-Shannon

ASI Food Safety

800-477-0778 (24/7)

www.ASIFood.com

Paying Tribute to a Remarkable Man

On Monday June 19th, 2017, food safety icon David M. Theno, only 66, passed away after a wave hit him as he was getting out of the ocean, while swimming with his grandson.

Theno was best known for stepping up and reviving the food chain, Jack in the Box after the massive and deadly outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 in 1993; he was the senior vice president and chief food safety officer at the time.  Since then he has become recognized worldwide for his leadership in the food safety industry.

Theno was one of the first to implement Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points in the facility, or HACCP, which we almost all have to have now.  He required a finished product testing protocol, test and hold, which eventually became the norm for the meat industry.

Theno was with Jack in the Box for almost 16 years after the outbreak and then started the company Gray Dog, better known to serve the Milford, CT based Subway Restaurant chain and become the chief global food safety and quality officer.

 

Theno’s leadership in responding to the 1993 outbreak and challenge of E. coli O157:H7 has been recognized by numerous scientific and industry organizations.

 

Rest in Peace Mr. Theno.  Your knowledge, efforts and insight will be missed.

It’s likely that the family will hold a memorial service in about three weeks in the San Diego area.

-Shannon

ASI Food Safety

800-477-0778

 

 

Keeping all These Records Straight

I was reading an interesting article this morning that discussed how complicated the food industry has really become.  There is so much to document, including items that you can not even control including other companies actions.  You should have, at minimum, three months worth of documentation on incoming product and outgoing product.

I have seen a multitude of companies that can make your life much easier with documenting all of this.  Just know that it has to be done to pass a food safety audit and to properly handle a food recall. It’s probably worth the money and headache to put some sort of program in place well ahead of the three month mark if you plan on having an audit or plan to continue to serve food to people.

Call us, we’re good at getting facilities going in the right direction.

 

Shannon

800-477-0778

www.ASIFood.com

It’s In The Water.

The aspect of food safety, that is.  I read a pretty interesting article today that went over what is required by the FSMA Produce Safety Ruling.  There are a whole slew of things, but among them what I found that could be confusing, are the water rules.

You have to worry about Microbial Water Testing and understanding when water qualifies as agricultural water.  Then you are required to do testing before, during and after harvest, and after all of that, you are also required to create a microbial water quality profile, MWQP.  Luckily, there are resources available to you to help along the way.

Below is a link that I found helpful in explaining things in further detail if you are interested.

Produce Safety Alliance

-Shannon

www.asifood.com 

800-477-0778

The Real Truth: You Can Kill Someone

I am on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus daily always looking out for the latest food safety news to keep everyone in the loop.  I think the biggest shocker that I have seen, not just once as we all know, are the companies that are getting in trouble for cutting corners and killing people.

The latest one was a cheese sauce in a gas station and I read about a company that out of 4 samples taken, 3 had Salmonella. What!?! I guess I can’t stress enough that there are food safety laws for a reason and that of course the almighty dollar is important, Mothers, Daughters, Sisters etc., are more important.

There is a guy, which if you are really involved in the industry you will already know, Bill Marler.  He has a great blog site, but basically all he does for a living is try and get justice for people that have been hurt or died from food. You need a reason to tighten up some of your procedures around your facility, read a few of these posts.

If you are running a company, you need to put some real thought into how you are going to handle caring for society. You can start by checking out the FDA website and reading more into FSMA https://www.fda.gov/food/guidanceregulation/fsma/ . All of the rules that were made here are to ultimately protect you, the Quality Assurance Manager of your food production, processing and distribution plant. Then in turn, it will protect the people who eat your food.

You want job security, give us a call.  We will point you in the right direction.

 

-Shannon

www.asifood.com

800-477-0778 (24/7)

Marler Blog

Your Food Just Came Out of There.

The FDA’s FSMA, Food Safety Modernization Act, has a section in it regarding the sanitary transportation of human and animal food. This means that the trucks that our food are arriving in, are subject to inspection.  Great for consumers! For trucking companies, now what?

Well, you need an inspection.  We do these kinds of inspections. But it’s going to take more than someone coming in and giving you the “A-OK”.  You need to make sure there is training in place with all of your drivers and refresher courses should be available to the employees.

Penske is a great example of a company putting this law into practice.

“We developed our own training program to ensure that Penske associates, which includes our truck drivers, are compliant with this important FSMA pillar,” explained Aaron Henderson, Penske Logistics director of loss prevention. “We incorporated FDA materials, third-party assistance, guidance from industry organizations and previous internal materials. We are also requiring annual refresher courses for all related personnel.”

So what is needed in the training aspect of it all, prior to the inspection, you ask?

  • You have to have documentation and maintain records of training.
  • The employees have to understand the truck’s temperature control tools and the specifics of what makes food unsafe.
  • How to work the tools and maintain temperatures in the trucks.
  • They have to know how to clean their equipment.
  • Lastly, they need to know the general guidelines for food safety and safe conditions for food they are hauling.

 

For more information about FSMA, read this previous “Move Ahead” blog post.

Need a trucking audit to comply? Give us a call, we’ll be there.

-Shannon

www.ASIFood.com

800-477-0778

Preparation for FDA Food Rule Change

Back in 2011 the Food Safety Modernization Act was passed and finally this April marked the date for some major change to take effect.  They focused on the Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food (STF Rule) which is designed to keep food safe during transportation.  Although many companies are now having to comply, small businesses, that have fewer than 500 employees and has less than $27.5M in annual revenue are not having to meet compliance until April of 2018.

The STF Rule requirements are for shippers, loaders, motor carriers, rail carriers, and receivers that transport all human and animal foods, additives, and dietary supplements. The four major areas of change with this Rule are:

  1. Vehicles and transportation equipment
  2. Transportation operations
  3. Training
  4. Records

 

Call us; we can explain how your company can comply.

-Shannon

www.asifood.com

800-477-0778 (24/7)

 

Purple Meat?

Well not the meat really, but the packaging. I read an article today that was talking further on the research that they are doing about coming up with packaging that changes colors when food has spoiled.  The article stated that it could save up to 8% of food waste!

In 2013 this all began with Canada and the U.S. trying to come up with a non-confusing way to inform the consumer that their food has gone bad.  There has been a ton of ideas that have came to fruition however, they are all either not cost efficient or not practical in mass producing such an item.

With the first prototype coming out last year, it looks as if this may soon be a reality.  How does it work you ask? The packaging would change colors based on PH changes and the Chinese have already come up with a small tag that indicates if a food product has been warmed to an unsafe temperature for consumption.

I’d say we are well on our way.  For now, we can just stick to the confusing “Sell by date” and “Best if Used by” and how about the random “date”.  No wonder we’re all throwing our food out.

Food Dive

Shannon

Director of Communications, ASI Food Safety

800-477-0778