All posts by 34443240

Blockchain & Food Safety: How Does That Work?

So by now most people are familiar with blockchain or at least cryptocurrency.   We may have heard of it but, in English please, what does it mean?!?

A blockchain is a database containing transaction details, information and records called blocks. A blockchain can also contain a currency, which is where Bitcoin and Litecoin come into play.  This has nothing to do with how our food is going to stay safe though.

Blockchains will allow consumers to find out where their food came from. All you would have to do is scan the QR code, those little black squares on packages that look like they are made up of a bunch of random dots, found on the packaging of their food, with their smart phone.

This would show a consumer where the product originally came from, either grown or born, how it was fed or kept and then how and when it was transported.

This would fix a lot of traceability issues. We are not quite there yet but, that doesn’t mean this isn’t right around the corner.

Call us.  We have people in the office that are obsessed with this stuff.  They can explain it further.

-Shannon Nute, MBA

ASI Food Safety




Killing Bad Bacteria In Your Food

The biggest issue with food safety is that people get sick and die. But what if we could keep the good bacteria and just eliminate the bad bacteria rather than just killing everything?

This is what a group of researchers are doing in Canada and they think that it may make a positive impact on not only keeping people from getting sick, but also from having to throw out food.

They have made this film called “sugar glasses” which is a film made with the bacteria eating substance called pullulan. Pullulan is naturally found on fruits and veggies and doesn’t taste or smell like anything.  Pullulan, in essence, leaves the good bacteria and eliminate the bad, This would allow us consumers to eat the product under Sugar Glasses film in the package.

This sounds great, but as with everything, there are some challenges to executing this plan. One, they are having trouble drying out the pullulan and then replacing in on the film and it still being effective. Some of the tests have shown the process to be effective for around 2 weeks.

There is still hope however. In one of the tests that they used pullulan on butcher paper with a mixture of another type of bacteria eating substance, could kill bacteria such as Lysteria monocytogenes up to three months later.

They found this to be a promising solution to be used in the near future. Stay tuned.

Shannon Nute, MBA

Director of Communications

ASI Food Safety

“We Audit That.”

800-477-0778 (24/7)

The authors of the study report received funding from the National Sciences and Engineering Council of CanadaGrand Challenges Canada, the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, and the Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science (Ontario).

What FDA Auditors Are Looking For

FDA is going to be implementing some changes in the way that they audit.  The question people are asking is “what are they mainly looking for?”

One of the biggest non-conformances that we see just here at ASI, is documentation and record keeping.  This is going to be even more of a hit with FDA.  The access to records is expanding over all of the sections whether it be Animal Feed, Sanitary Transportation, Human Food or Preventive Controls.  So this means they are going to be looking for the required records with dates and signatures for all these sections.

If this wasn’t enough, they are also going to be looking for what programs that you have in place at your facility and if/how you have implemented them.

Take note that they will be looking at all records.  This means the corrective action records. If you don’t show record for correcting something, well, it didn’t happen.

There is more to it than just this but, this gives you a good start on where you should begin to make some changes in your facility.

Shannon Nute, MBA


Food Safety Acronyms Cleared Up

In the food safety world, acronyms are used in multiple scenarios. It can get confusing when trying to figure out what the acronyms mean or how to pronounce them. My goal today is share some knowledge regarding the most commonly used acronyms. This will help you when speaking about all of these food industry acronyms we use in our everyday life.

I’ll begin with the most frequently used acronyms and explain how to pronounce them, whether it be by saying each letter or reading the word. Knowing this useful information will be beneficial by making you more informed when you need to reach out to a certification body, also known as “CB”, and pronounced in letter form. Although you may not use every acronym, having a basic understanding of the most used ones is vital.

Two common acronyms that are widely known around the world are the FDA and USDA. From there, another critical acronym one should know is HACCP plan, pronounced hass-ip. This stands for Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point plan which is a requirement when completing an audit.

Going further into the types of audits a company can receive, varies on what guidelines are needing to be met. The first audit I’ll go into is your basic GMP audit and then I will briefly explain.

In order to achieve getting a GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice, pronounced in letter form) audit, a facility is going to call up a CB and explain what is done at the facility. From there, they’ll direct you to the correct audit form that the facility will be audited against.  At times, when looking at the form, the words eventually begin to flow together and leaves more confusion than clarification. This is where someone may want to consider getting a Gap Analysis (pronounced as the word Gap rather than G-A-P). A Gap Analysis is a consultation to prepare you for a GMP audit not to be confused with GAP audit which stands for Good Agricultural Practices for the Ag industry (short for agriculture, pronounced aag).

So let’s say that you find out that you need a GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative) audit, now what? There are several choices. Under the GFSI umbrella there are audit schemes such as SQF (Safe Quality Food), BRC (British Retail Consortium), IFS (International Featured Standard) and FSSC (Food Safety System Certification) 22,000. All pronounced as their individual letters. All of these are equal and based on ISO (Pronounced “Eye-So”) to ensure that all the documentation is consistent. One standard just may be preferred more than another, with your supplier.  If you are needing help with consulting prior to the audit you will want to get a Pre-Assessment prior to your doc (document) review/ desk audit. These mean the same thing.  The doc review is the audit that is conducted on your documentation the first year of auditing, starting your audit cycle.

This is just a down and dirty run-through of the acronyms. Now, at least you will verbally sound like you know what you are talking about.

Shannon Nute, MBA

Director of Communications

ASI Food Safety


8 Steps to Getting SQF Food Safety Certified

If you are reading this, I am going to take a good guess that you are heavily involved in the food industry. Yet, no matter how long you are in the industry, food safety regulations and guidelines are always confusing.

I decided to blog about SQF steps, because someone needed to break this down into layman terms.

1.     So I am assuming you need to become certified per your supplier. First step is going to be to learn the SQF code. Luckily, ASI Food Safety provides that for free on their website here.  You just need to figure out which book(s) you will need to learn. Call them and they will let you know for no charge, as well. (800.477.0778 or instant chat on the website )

You can also attend SQF’s Information days. Let your rep. know that you want the information on when these are coming up. Once you learn the SQF code you need to implement it in your facility.

2.     Assuming you have done step one, you need to now register in ReposiTrak. This is the system that you have to be in, to have an audit conducted. This needs to be done right away because your certifying body can’t do anything until you are registered in the system. No scheduling, no preparing, nothing. So register.

3.     You have to have an SQF Practitioner, someone that knows the code in their sleep. Pick this person out and don’t forget to pick a backup person, in case they ever get hit by the bus. You have to have a backup.

4.     Figure out what level you want to be. Most people start with level 2 because level 1 isn’t recognized and costs the same amount as level 2. Level 3, which is going to be called the “Quality Code” in 2018 I will provide an example for. So a green bean manufacturer can have a level 2 SQF audit and we know that their food is safe.  If the manufacturer has a level 3 audit, then customers are assured that all the green beans in the cans are 3 inches long as well.  The food is not only safe, but is of a certain quality.

5.     Do your research on Certification Bodies and get quotes. These are going to be the people that are with you every step of the way. Check how their customer service is. Is there a technical director there for you at any given time, how easy are they to get to a real person at 9 at night, how quick does the quote get back to you? All these things are important because once you start with the company, it is a pain, if not impossible, to switch companies half way through this process.

6.     Figure out if you want a Pre-Assessment. This is a non-documented audit, which is conducted before the real, documented audit. It will tell you where you still need work in your facility and the best part, the auditor that conducts the Pre-Assessment, also will conduct the real audit.

7.     Pick a Certification Body that will conduct your audit and then be the company that certifies you to the SQF standard.  Sign the quote. A company cannot hold audit dates for you unless they have a signed quote. I can’t stress enough, sign and turn in the quote so you have your dates that you actually want.

8.     Get your audit. This will include the Document Review, Pre-Assessment and Facility Audit.

There are a lot of little details that I would be happy to answer for you if you want to write, call or comment on this.

With a little teamwork, we will get though all of these hoops that are needed to be jumped through.

Shannon Nute, MBA

Director of Communications

ASI Food Safety

314-333-6206 : Corporate Website : Our Blog

FDA: At it again with another Draft

So let’s talk about FSMA and what it’s been up to lately.

FDA stated that they are going to publish at least 14 chapters for the Draft Guidance for PC rule also known as “Draft Guidance for Industry: Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food”.

Last week they released the 6th chapter. All of this time and effort, is designed to help food facilities learn and put into practice, the “Use of Heat Treatments as a Process Control”. Which means baking or cooking a food, to prevent bacteria from infecting the final product.

So far they are at 60 pages with this document. It goes into great depth on helping facilities understand what could happen if they didn’t follow the correct procedures. It explains the validation of the heat treatment, meaning why it works. It guides facilities on how to establish and implement monitoring procedures, and how often this should be done. Lastly, it explains verification, which is seeing if you are actually doing the things that you said you were going to do.

FDA says that they will be finished with the entire document in 2 weeks for small suppliers. Small suppliers being those facilities that have less than 500 full-time employees.

The link below provides more technical jargon on it all.

As always, feel free to give us call whenever, 24 x7. We’re always here to answer questions.

Shannon Nute, MBA

ASI Food Safety

800-477-0778 (24×7) (Instant Chat)

Traceability: 4 Reasons Why You Need It.

Traceability should come with every facility. It is required for both a GMP audit and a GFSI audit. But, it makes it easier to do a task when you understand the reasoning behind WHY you are doing the task. So in this case, why waste all of this time documenting for something that may not ever happen?

Traceability is like insurance; you hardly ever use it, but when you need it, it’s worth a million. Almost always, it is brought up when we are talking about a recall, food defense, or any kind of emergency planning.

Ok, so being prepared for an emergency, seems a little more important now. Let’s break it down further for this reason.

1.     Readiness: Having all of your incoming product documented comes in handy when one of the employees gets upset and dumps shampoo into the cake mix batter (documentation in your defense program). This kind of thing happens, but at least you can figure out which batch needs to be tossed or recalled.

2.    Communication: When something does happen, your facility has their act together and can call the suppliers with some information to give.

3.    Rebuild Trust: Now that there has been a recall, the facility having documented proof of what went wrong, can prove to suppliers that the facility knows what they are doing. Maintaining trust with your suppliers, keeps loyal clients.

4.    Avoidance: The most importance step is preventing a situation from happening all together. Traceability can help a company foreshadow an issue before it comes an issue. Ideally, if an issue is fixed before it hits the shelves of consumers, we can count that a win for the company.

As if this information wasn’t enough to convince you, let’s put a recall into a cash example. “According to Grocery Manufacturers Association in the U.S., the financial impact of a recall is quite significant: 52% of all recalls cost over $10M and 23% cost over $30M.” I’m not a billionaire, so that sounds expensive.

Still need a reason to why traceability so important? The further motives really depend on who you talk to.

“For public safety, it’s about reducing incidences of food fraud as well as unintentional or intentional adulteration; disease management; and environmental emergencies. For businesses, it’s all about risk management and mitigation—lowering the impact of recalls and lowering liability costs. For the supply chain, efficiencies relate to productivity; cash flow improvements; innovation; and reducing waste. And for consumers, it’s about access to markets and specialty foods ; and enhancing or strengthening brand confidence. But regardless of the specific reason, traceability is critical to all.” -FDA Website

Need to know where to start? Call us or instant chat with us. We can put you on the right track.

Shannon Nute, MBA

ASI Food Safety


Eat the Mold or Discard the Mold?

I bet you have heard mixed information when it comes to that moldy cheese or green loaf of bread.  So the real question is, what is SAFE to eat?

I found a chart from the USDA that was of course ridiculously long, so I’ll break this down for you and clear up some of this confusion, while having this double as a good cheat sheet, so we can avoid being stuck in the bathroom for 3 days.

This is also a great guide for all those QA managers out there trying to save their product.

Food With Mold:

Luncheon Meats, Bacon, or Hotdogs– Throw them out. Foods with high moisture content can be contaminated below the surface. Moldy foods may also have bacteria growing along with the mold.

Hard Salami and Dry-cured Country Hams– Use. Scrub mold off the surface. It is normal for these shelf-stable products to have surface mold.

Hard Cheese– Use. Cut off at least 1 inch around and below the mold spot (Keep the knife out of the mold itself so it will not cross-contaminate other parts of the cheese). After trimming off the mold, re-cover the cheese in fresh wrap.

Cheese made with Mold (Roquefort, Blue, Gorgonzola, Stilton, Brie, and Camembert) – Discard if they contain molds that are not a part of the manufacturing process.

Soft Cheese (cottage, Cream cheese, Neufchatel, Chevre, Bel Paese) – Discard. Don’t even mess around with any soft cheese with mold.

Fruits and Vegetables, FIRM (such as cabbage, bell peppers, carrots, etc.) -Use. Cut off at least 1 inch around and below the mold spot (keep the knife out of the mold itself so it will not cross-contaminate other parts of the produce).

Fruits and Vegetables, SOFT (such as cucumbers, peaches, tomatoes, etc.)- Throw it out.

Bread/ Baked Goods– Yeah, get rid of it.

Peanut Butter, Legumes and Nuts– Pitch it.

There is even more of a detailed list on the USDA website.  Check it out if you want to get specific, but at least this give you a good idea of what to look out for.

Call us, were always here to help.

Shannon Nute, MBA

Director of Communication

ASI Food Safety

800-477-0778 (24/7) (Instant Chat)

Does Hand Sanitizer Even Work?

So there have been questions to whether a company can substitute hand sanitizer for hand washing procedures. The short answer is- NO.

So let’s get into this a bit. According to the New York Times “no one has studied whether hand sanitizers have cut down on the number of infectious diseases among the public at large.” Does this mean to get rid of sanitizers all together? I’m not sure I would go that far.

A 2008 study in The American Journal of Public Health concluded that improvements in hand hygiene, regardless of how the participants cleaned their hands, cut gastrointestinal diseases by 31 percent, and respiratory infections by 21 percent. Notice that it says “cut”, not eliminated.

In food facilities, the classic use of soap and water for at least 20 seconds has been proven to putting a stop to sharing diseases that can make people sick or worse kill someone. Adding hand sanitizer to the process of it all can add to the reduction of contamination by getting areas that could have been missed in the washing process.

Even stepping out the the bathroom, you risk getting your hands infected by grabbing the handle on the way out. The use of a sanitizer after that step, may kill off any small bit of germs that you picked up.

Liz Scott, chairwoman of the department of public health at Simmons College in Boston says “We really need to target our hygiene practices”. This means when in doubt, in your food facility, wash your hands. It’s always a smart idea to avoid handshakes whenever possible during flu season, but just in case you can’t, grab for the hand sanitizer.

Now, go wash your hands.

Shannon Nute, MBA

Director of Communications

ASI Food Safety


Allergen Got Your Tongue? – 8 Deadly Foods

The last thing a company wants to be responsible for, is a customer hospitalization or death.  Unfortunately, your facility may have the tastiest, safest muffins in the United States, but if someone with an allergy to eggs eats it, and it’s not labeled to contain eggs, well the facility may be in a whirlwind of trouble.

There are more than 160 foods that are identified to cause allergic reactions.  In the United States, by law, there are 8 that are known to cause over 90% of the population’s issues with allergic reactions and the food sources from which many other ingredients are derived.

The eight foods identified by U.S. law are:

  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Fish (e.g., bass, flounder, cod)
  • Crustacean shellfish (e.g., crab, lobster, shrimp)
  • Tree nuts (e.g., almonds, walnuts, pecans)
  • Peanuts
  • Wheat
  • Soybeans

These eight foods, and any ingredient that contains protein derived from one or more of them, are designated as “major food allergens” by FALCPA.

Label your food correctly.  Stay out of trouble.


Shannon Nute, MBA

Director of Communications

ASI Food Safety